Did Sermo save health reform?

Did Sermo save health reform?

Summary: The objections Sermo and CEO Palestrant offered in September, unlike those he pushed in July, were answerable. They either were answered or are being in the process of being answered.


Hidden inside President Obama's speech Wednesday were several "Easter eggs," nods to long-standing conservative ideas he hoped would make it possible to pass a bill.

Where did these ideas come from? Possibly from Sermo, the Web 2.0 group for doctors.

Early this summer CEO Daniel Palestrant was on TV as an opponent of reform. He said 94% of his members opposed the reform bill passed by the House, and that the American Medical Association was thus out of step with its members in endorsing it.

Was it possible Palestrant was misreading his own members? MedGadget suggested that two years ago, writing that his registration firewall was easily hacked, and that Palestrant's reaction to criticism was unhelpful. But let's assume he got that fixed, even if he complained about being called on it.

Fast forward to this week. Palestrant was back, at The Health Care Blog, claiming to represent 10,000 physicians, but with simpler, easier-to-understand demands:

  1. Tort and malpractice laws are reformed;
  2. Billing is streamlined and pricing made transparent, ending systemic support of the AMA owned billing codes (CPT Codes);
  3. The insurance industry is reformed; and
  4. Payment systems are simplified so they align with the growing need for preventive medicine.

So guess what the President offered in his speech? A nod toward tort reform, an emphasis on prevention, a demand for insurance reform.

The CPT Code issue remains, but their fate is being determined by the health advisory committee of NCHIT David Blumenthal, which is taking a functional approach, not the prescriptive one where CPT codes dominate. Reform-oriented doctors like David Kibbe seem pleased with the work.

The objections Sermo and CEO Palestrant offered in September, unlike those pushed in July, were answerable. They either were answered or are being in the process of being answered.

Does that mean Palestrant or his members will endorse a bill? Maybe not. But he can't claim they weren't heard.

Topics: Enterprise Software, Banking, CXO, Health, IT Employment

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  • Let's be serious

    Dana, as a physician, I appreciate the question you posed...but please, let's try to refrain from over embellishing the very limited role Daniel Palestrant and Sermo have played in the past few weeks. The AMA, and its 250,000 members, pushed President Obama on tort reform when he addressed their Annual Meeting in July.

    Running a survey on Sermo that less than 1% of physicians nationwide responded to and blasting the airwaves with press releases in support of what appears to be a self-serving agenda (at the expense of the AMA and CPT codes), has done little if anything to sway our leaders in Washington.

    Following the AMA?s decision to sever ties with his company, all Daniel is concerned about is driving a wedge between physicians like myself and the AMA...and of course, he'll do whatever he can to promote Sermo as a leading voice for physicians when that statement couldn't be further from the truth.

    So instead of helping Daniel boost his ego for something he had very little if any input in influencing, let?s focus our energy on crediting the millions of hard working Americans who have fought for health reform over the years.
    • I agree with Palestrant on the CPT codes

      Requiring a proprietary technology prevents the
      development of open standards. You're hampering
      the search for solutions in favor of your own
      financial gain and that of HIMSS members whose
      solutions are 30 years out of date.

      Having covered this for a few years now I stand by
      that statement.
    • Self-serving??

      Sermo and Dr. Palestrant have given the MAJORITY of physicians a voice. Most people don't realize that no more than 30% of physicians even belong to the AMA due to its failure to represent the views of the majority of physicians. In spite of this the AMA continues to represent itself as the voice of American physicians. Nothing could be further from the truth.
      The AMA does not represent doctors or patients and does not disclose its conflict of interest in the atrocious billing code system used by Medicare and all insurance companies. They own the rights to the codes and earn millions selling and revising them.
      The doctors at Sermo are advocating for the patient, not themselves!
  • RE: Did Sermo save health reform?

    I certainly hope so!

    Richard A. Armstrong MD FACS
  • RE: Did Sermo save health reform?

    You say "Early this summer CEO Daniel Palestrant was on TV as an opponent of reform. He said 94% of his members opposed the reform bill passed by the House"

    This is pretty clearly saying that being against this bill = being against reform. That seems like the more or less typical liberal attitude that anyone who disagrees must be some kind of idiot that hates children and tortures puppies.
    • That's a big part of the problem

      The assumption of ill will and ill intentions, or dark inhumanity, on the part of modern conservatives is dangerous to any concept of democracy. In any country.

      I don't care if you're a Democrat, but consider whether you're a democrat. If you refuse to accept my essential goodwill, you're not one.
  • RE: Did Sermo save health reform?

    I'm not sure but many the representatives are listening at not
    only the docs but the people. After all, a true politician once
    elective main initiative is to remain there. I think that the
    whole healthcare initiative make the representatives nervous
    about their own futures.
  • RE: Did Sermo save health reform?

    Mr. Blankenhorn,
    As "cornpie" implies, one can be for reform but against the original bill.
    I'm an MD, and believe that reform is needed. If the goals of meaningful reform are to decrease costs, maintain or improve current quality of care, and allow greater access, then tort reform has to be on the table. Whether it's SERMO, AMA, ACS, I for one am glad it was mentioned. We'll see about results...
    • Dana Was Replying To Cornpie's Agenda

      The last sentence in Cornpie's post reveals Cornpie's true agenda. You'll find this agenda consistently displayed in Cornpie's previous posts on health care.

      I agree that tort and malpractice reform are essential to effective health care reform:


      Insurance reform and regulation is essential as well: