October 31, 2008

90K Doctors Tell Presidential Candidates What They Think About Their Healthcare Policies

Sermo (http://www.sermo.com), the world's largest physician-only online community, has captured the attention of both presidential candidates. Senators McCain and Obama agreed to open a dialog with physicians on Sermo by answering questions ranging from their stances on healthcare regulation to the recent shortage of primary care specialists. In less than 24 hours, the candidates garnered thousands of responses from physicians across the country. The polling results and ongoing discussion demonstrate a clear, unified voice from America's physicians that the current healthcare system is irreparably broken and the next president must take serious steps to change the status quo.

More than 30% of polled physicians said the healthcare policy answers would change their vote from the candidate they previously supported. 23% of those who read Obama's answers were now influenced in favor of McCain, while 10% of those who responded to McCain's answers moved toward Obama.

Each candidate's responses were based on questions submitted and voted on by members of the Sermo physician community. Responses included a follow-up discussion as well as a poll to gauge physician reaction to the policy answers. Additional results from the nearly 1,000 polled physicians showed:

-- 51% believe Obama's plan is not beneficial to the country while only 31% believe McCain's plan is not beneficial. 30% believe Obama's plan is beneficial vs. 44% who feel McCain's plan is beneficial

-- 42% believe that Obama's plan is not beneficial to patients while 32% feel McCain's is not beneficial. 33% believe Obama's is beneficial to patients vs. 42% who feel McCain's plan is beneficial

Sermo is the place where physicians exchange the latest in medical thinking, and is quickly becoming the collective voice of the U.S. physician community. The presidential candidates initially responded to a grassroots effort started by physicians on Sermo. The effort, which cumulated in the drafting of An Open Letter from America's Physicians, outlined physicians' frustrations with the path of the American healthcare system and their inability to provide the best healthcare for their patients under the current system. To date, the letter has garnered more than 8,000 physician signatures.

"The Open Letter is playing a critical role in beginning a dialog with policy makers who can affect change in healthcare," said Sean Khozin, the physician who began the Open Letter effort. "Top policy advisors from both campaigns agreed to participate in an online discussion about the issues we outlined in the letter. Our next goal is to have a seat at the table in the healthcare debate with the new administration, regardless of who is elected to office."

While Senator McCain's healthcare plan fared better among the physician community, a continuing theme in the discussion was that both candidates are not only lacking the appropriate fix to a majority of problems, but that neither address the proper concerns or possess the adequate knowledge of the nuances of the healthcare system.

A sampling of physician responses highlight the nagging need to get insurance companies and other third parties out of the middle:

-- "'I feel your pain' does not address the fundamental systemic problem - the FOR PROFIT medical insurance and non-portability of same."

-- "While they recognize the cost for care in this country is great, they do not seem to understand that physicians are better at practicing medicine than they are at financing it. The high paying physician subspecialties hire their own lobbyists to keep their pay where it is, while the pcp / fp / im / ped physicians are woefully undercompensated (and generally do not have enough money to hire their own lobbyists). They do not recognize that cognitive services are greatly undervalued. The plan to help with physicians in training does not do anything for the much larger number of physicians in practice. ... Health care plans are too complex for the average person to figure out. ... There are a great many physicians who do treatments for $ without a demonstrated need to the patient, and reform needs to come from within the medical community for this."

-- "Pandering and vague. Insufficient understanding of real issues facing physicians and importance of true incentives (rather than punishment by bureaucracy)."

-- "I still don't think either candidate will help the physician plight. They just don't get what we need answers to and what our fears really are."

-- "What's missing is the main problem of for-profit insurance companies. They should evolve into not-for-profit companies or be eliminated."

-- "Doctors are not the cause of the health care crisis. It is the result of years of bureaucracy on the hands of third parties. Let us be doctors and treat our patients the way we think will be the best."

"Sermo has created a unified voice for physicians that has already caught the attention of industry, government and Wall Street," said Sermo CEO Daniel Palestrant, M.D. "Now the presidential candidates are listening. As the community grows, so does the ability of physicians to impact change. We are thrilled that Sermo is bringing these groups together, and will continue to offer products and services to support the efforts of our community."

To learn more about An Open Letter from America's Physicians, visit http://www.sermo.com/unite. To view the full results of the Sermo physician poll and discussion, please contact Sermo at [email protected]

About Sermo

Sermo is where 90,000 US physicians collaborate on difficult cases, share clinical observations and work together to achieve far more than they could individually. Sermo's technology harnesses this collective insight for healthcare institutions, financial services firms and government agencies. This creates a two-sided marketplace for information exchange. Physicians on Sermo gain a unified voice that allows them to influence healthcare policy. Sermo's clients gain direct access to a fresh stream of actionable information on emerging medical trends--to physicians on the frontlines who put drugs, devices and treatments to the test every day. For more information, visit http://www.sermo.com.