Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The SERMO-AMA Disconnect

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Kevin MD today makes some keen observations about the recent dissolution of the AMA – SERMO connection. The sad fact is the outcome weakens the credibility of both organizations. No one knows what the ‘pre-nuptial agreement’, nor what investment in hard cash we as physicians made in SERMO. It would be nice if there were some transparency, other t han the posturing of either side.

My view is that we as physicians were hurt by these events. Neither side seems to want to own accountability for the rupture in the partnership. My guess is that The American Medical Association reacted like a ‘hurt parent’ when confronted by SERMO with the ‘truth’. The AMA and it’s board obviously did not see the relationship as mutually beneficial. The American Medical Association seems to have treated SERMO as a mere ‘marketing opportunity” for the AMA. They never really saw this relationship as a true “partnership.” Partnerships require trust, and trust requires time and actions to prove it’s worth. The AMA lost the opportunity to hear from the disenchanted physicians who no longer belong to the AMA. Perhaps the AMA thinks that by withdrawing its support for SERMO, it will wither and die. SERMO will find a number of other suitors. Mere numbers do not make any organization strong. Many ordinary decision makers and the general public no longer see the AMA as representative of doctors, and the AMA now shares the stereotyping as just one more special interest lobbying group.

Even as an early supporter of SERMO, and Dr. Palestrant’s meteoric rise in medical social networking, as well as major media, I feel somewhat chagrined, and can feel the angst of Dr. Palestrant….

I do not know the inner workings or the need for capital that SERMO required when the partnership was formed. The AMA is a much more mature and well structured organization, not dependent on the actions of one man. Dr. Palestrant seems to act alone, however I do know that I once served on an advisory council. I haven’t heard anything about that council for several years.

The fact that so few replied to the survey about the AMA is not surprising, given that most surveys have a very low yield . Also, given the fact that most doctors only occasionally sign into SERMO occasionally most missed the actual survey itself.

The fact is that doctors need the AMA, and also need organizations such as SERMO.

Other organizations have made the same observations

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