Sermo is a free online community restricted to verified US physicians. It was founded in 2006 by Daniel Palestrant. Although its not the only one in this niche, Sermo has managed to get plenty of press and continuous funding ($3m in 2006, followed by $9.5m and $26.7m in 2007).

So what is special about Sermo? For one, it has been forming all the right partnerships. Take its alliance with the country’s largest physician organization (AMA), collaboration with pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and the agreement with main regulatory authority FDA. Second, it’s been successful in getting traction from a very fickle and tech-resistant group of professionals- physicians. Their compete.com report is pretty impressive:

The site claims 65,000 users and generates revenue by charging outsiders for access to the community. The data generated by physician interactions around medical events, treatments, observations, opinions provide valuable insights to commercial organizations. Its a information arbitrage or ‘Engagement Model’ model, as Sermo calls it.

Sermo is not alone in trying to aggregate and monetize the lucrative US physician community. Docsboard, SocialMD, DoctorNetworking are others in the game. There is competition in adjacent spaces too: NurseGroups, NurseLinkup are focusing on the registered nursing professionals, StudentDoctor.net focuses on medical students. Even finer niches like women in medicine are online (MomMD).