Capitalizing on what it says is a diverse membership of 115,000 actively engaged physicians, Sermo, Inc. (Cambridge, MA) is now enabling market researchers to set up ad hoc panels of 10-30 physicians to run surveys or lead discussions. The panels can be segmented by medical specialty, demographics, geography or other criteria; Sermo also allows the panel to be populated by client-specified participants (provided that they are Sermo users).
“Sermo Panels are game-changing market research tools,” said Gina Ashe, cofounder and CMO of Sermo, “they enable businesses to mine—on demand—expert medical opinion while eliminating the traditional costs associated with offline market research such as travel, venue, and recruitment expenses.”
The service comes in two versions: Sermo Panels Express, which is set up and run online by the client, and Sermo Panels, for which Sermo provides a moderator, assistance in assembling the panel, and data analytics. The former, intended for ad agencies or general consumer-products market research, is under $10,000; the latter, more specific to the needs of the life sciences industry, is $16,000. Depending on how the panel is set up, participating physicians earn honoraria of a couple hundred dollars.
“Sermo has developed a very trusted environment where physicians feel free to exchange honest opinions and provide very hands-on information,” says Greg Schenk, marketing director. “This comes from our tight control of membership—only licensed physicians can belong—and from what you might call the ‘wisdom of the crowd’ in that members police themselves.”