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Sermo, One Post at a Time

Sermo prides itself on offering a secure and private platform for its physician members. We previously discussed how weak their authentication model was, making it easy for anyone to grab an account and crash the doctors’ party. Because this model was in place for most of their first 25,000 members, it’s unclear how many of their members actually are physicians.

But after blowing through $39M worth of funding, they still seem focused on poking holes in the privacy of their own closed community.

We popped over to their homepage the other day and noticed that they are publishing selected postings from their community to their homepage. They now have a nice archive of over 1,500 such articles (about 10% of their total 16,000+ articles now posted to their service) you can review — hundreds of doctors basically discussing your medical history in public. The sample offers a fascinating insight into the world of Sermo physicians (please let us know if you recognize yourself in any of these profiles):

XYREM in fbromyalgia
Anybody have any clinical experience using Xyrem (GHB) in fibromyalgia…

30yo female with Bipolar type 2 and social anxiety disorder Please help me with medication options for my uninsured patient:
30yo female, college graduate, unemployed by choice for 18 months, father fully disabled with severe bipolar type one, with symptoms of rapid cycling bipolar type two and increasing symptoms or social anxiety disorder…

Weird pediatric case of altered level of consciousness
This is a case from yesterday. HPI: 2 yr old white male presents with altered level of consciousness…

Taking a stand
Here is one group of physicians taking a stand against United Health Care. I’m sure it’s all about money. When enough of this happens change will occur. A doctor is not a replaceable commodity.

Periodic Paralysis in a Pediatric Patient
12 y/o male presented to our ED with chief complaint “the left side of my body is filled with sand.” Aprroximately 3 hours before presentation, was sitting in class and experienced sudden onset of numbness and weakness of tongue and left cheek…

53 yo elite athlete with elevated lp(a)
The patient, a confirmed extreme sport addict, swims several miles daily and once a week runs 25 miles. Several times a year he runs centuries…

Interesting Pulmonary Case II-What is your differential/Dx ?
CHIEF COMPLAINT: Fever, shortness of breath and pleuritic chest pain for the past two days. HISTORY OF PRESENT ILLNESS: This patient is a 26-year-old white female, diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in May 2006, after an initial diagnosis of ulcerative colitis one year previously. Since this diagnosis, she has been treated with methotrexate and Remicade….

Good stuff, for certain, showing the power and usefulness of the Sermo service. But it also begs the question — why can anyone read this stuff? Shouldn’t a closed, private community be, well, closed and private?

Sermo, please keep your physician posts private. Patients deserve their privacy too.

This post has been edited to reduce the amount of information we are displaying about these entries, after a comment insightfully suggested we were just repeating the same mistakes of Sermo. Click on the links to read the full entry (especially the last link above, which is practically a full intake record).

Sermo Marketing
Sermo, One Post at a Time

John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

Dr. John Grohol is the founder of Psych Central. He is a psychologist, author, researcher, and expert in mental health online, and has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues since 1995. Dr. Grohol has a Master's degree and doctorate in clinical psychology from Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Grohol sits on the editorial board of the journal Computers in Human Behavior and is a founding board member of the Society for Participatory Medicine. You can learn more about Dr. John Grohol here.

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APA Reference
Grohol, J. (2018). Sermo, One Post at a Time. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 1, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 29 Jan 2008)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
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