Sermo launches mobile app for immediate access to physician network

By Eric Wicklund
09:28 AM
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A physician in the middle of an examination comes across a question he or she can’t answer. Thanks to Sermo, that answer may now be as close as the smartphone.

The Cambridge, Mass.-based online physician network has launched Sermo Mobile, an application designed to give its members immediate access to the Sermo network, a so-called “virtual water cooler” that connects more than 120,000 physicians in 68 specialties in all 50 states.

“Sermo Mobile allows members quick and easy access to the knowledge and expertise of leading PCPs and specialists throughout the country – anytime, anywhere," said Daniel Palestrant, MD, Sermo’s founder and CEO, in a press release. “Turning the concept of real-time medicine into reality has been our vision for some time, and this technology allows physicians to immediately impact patient care.”

To aid in any diagnosis, the Sermo Mobile platform includes iConsult, which allows physicians to take a photograph of a medical situation, x-ray or lab result and send it out to relevant specialists in the Sermo community with an attached question from a pre-determined list.

"The ability to consult with my colleagues in real-time, from the patient's bedside or my exam room, addresses an unmet need and will be of tremendous benefit, particularly for urgent clinical cases when I need an immediate response," said Christopher Y. Chang, MD, head of Fauquier Ear Nose & Throat Consultants of Virginia, based in Warrenton, Va. "Similarly, the capacity to instantly post images and explanations about a patient case and share this information with colleagues through Sermo Mobile helps me provide the best care possible to my patients."

The mobile app is the first product to come out of a strategic partnership, announced this past March, with Janssen Global Services, and follows a survey of 600 physicians in which clear gaps were identified in how care is coordinated. Another survey, conducted with Watertown, Mass.-based athenahealth, indicated physicians are growing skeptical that electronic medical records and electronic health records are helping to reduce medical errors or decrease costs and want to see a more patient-centric approach to healthcare.

“Our research shows there is tremendous frustration among doctors and patients about the lack of solutions to coordinate care, and new technologies appear to be compounding, rather than solving, the problem,” said Palestrant, who launched Sermo in 2006. “EMR and EHR have become so contentious among physicians, because they create barriers and introduce complexity into the patient relationship, rather than remove them.”

“For years we have been under tremendous pressure from our community to offer a mobile application, but we have resisted because we wanted to have a truly transformative impact on the point of care,” he added. “Our community has validated that our approach achieves that goal.”

The new app is available for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad and can be downloaded at www.sermo.com/mobile.

Sermo officials said they expect to roll out consumer-oriented services later this year.