Just received a PR this morning from WebMD where they are crowing that they are now Numero Uno in the physician social networking sphere. The PR claims that their relatively new social networking site, Medscape Connect now has over 100K registered users. Pretty impressive number considering they were initially caught flat-footed when Sermo came on the scene and did not even launch Medscape Connect until this past April. Just goes to show what an existing market presence can do for a company that wants to quickly gain on upstarts.
Not so sure that Medscape Connect is indeed Numero Uno though and the press release says nothing about which third party numbers they are referencing to make such a bold claim. (Note: just Googled Medscape Connect for link to site and Google ad for Medscape at top of page has not been updated – states 60K members, hmmm makes one wonder). In October at the Health 2.0 conference, Sermo claimed to have 90K registered users . According to Compete.com, Sermo is still seeing healthy growth in visitors and if one were to extrapolate, the significant uptick this fall, would put them well over the 100K number today.
With some 700,000+ physicians in the US and many times that number worldwide, there is plenty of room in the market for more than one provider of social networking tools for physicians. Another physician networking site to track is medicspeak, which is the only one that has an interenational audience. You can find more complete, abeit abstract, profiles of all three at eMedicineLive. The challenge though is converting these social networking sites into rich in content and profitable to investors opertaing entities.
A challenge that all of these sites will face going forward. It is here, with the economic model that WebMD has the edge. The vast Medscape property allows WebMD to forgo profits in one area if it contributes to click-throughs and impressions (ad-rev metrics) in another.