Thursday, October 09, 2008

Physician Assistants Establish Online Presence

Physician Assistants Establish Online Presence

Oct 8, 2008
By: George Koroneos, Online Content & News Editor
PharmExec Direct Marketing Edition

As face-time with doctors is increasingly limited, the role of physician
and nurse practitioners has become integral in the healthcare system.
However, it hasn't exactly become easier for PAs and NPs to obtain
information about drugs and treatments. That's about to change.

Launched last week, Clinician 1 <> is a
Facebook-style social networking site targeted to the 200,000 physician
and nurse practitioners that prescribe drugs in all 50 states. It
features personal information pages, medical education, and areas to
facilitate two-way conversations between like-minded clinicians.

"We found that as we looked at ways to serve the informational and
social needs of both these professions, a social network/community was
needed," said Dave Mittman, physician assistant and co-founder of
Clinician 1.

Most importantly, Mittman and his partner Spencer Falk believed that the
site should not have physicians on it. To enroll in the site, potential
members must include their state license number and sign a digital
affidavit swearing to their identity as a PA or NA.

"Nurse practitioners and PAs have their own special needs regarding
things like running a clinic in rural areas, barriers to practice,
hospital privileges-many of the things that physicians take for granted
and wouldn't see any merit in reading," Mittman said. "PAs and NAs tend
to feel invisible within the healthcare system."

The site highlights different categories based on medical specialties
and interests. Everything from retail clinicians, parenting issues, and
military PAs are represented on the site. Also, much like you can pick
friends in Facebook or Myspace, you can choose colleagues on Clinician
1. The site also includes about 50 hours of free continuing medical
education, a repository of articles, and streaming news feeds.

Clinician 1 began development in January 2008 as a part time project
between Mittman and Falk, who have both, incidentally, continued their
careers as PAs. The site experienced some minor housekeeping hiccups
after launch, but no major problems.

"We didn't think we'd have 10,000 enrollees the first week, and we
thought that just opening it up and getting the glitches fixed even
after it was up and running would be fine. It hasn't been too
difficult," Mittman said.

Opportunity Knocks
Knowing that PAs and NAs are some of the top drug prescribers in the
industry, pharma would do well to pay close attention for future
opportunities. Clinician 1 does not currently have any pharma sponsors,
but Mittman and Falk are looking at the possibility of sponsorship.
Obviously, social networks have been a sticking point with pharma

"At this point, we are unsure as to what pharma wants to do and what the
FDA wants to do with social community sites that have people possible
speaking about unapproved indications and adverse reactions," Mittman
said. As of now, FDA has issued no regulations as to how pharma should
proceed in regards to either establishing or taking part in a social

Experts have said that it would be in pharma's best interest to partner
with a social networking site, rather than start their own. As of now
interest has been high, but implementation has been non-existent.

"We want to be able to educate our members about new products and new
indications, and things that happen in both the clinical device and
pharmaceutical fields," Mittman said. "Access to information about
pharmaceutical products is really decreasing. Hospitals are banning
detail people, large group practices are banning sales reps-even the
exhibit halls are going to be a different place without branded pens and

"Pharma and non-pharma are going to be faced with the task of getting
information-especially about products that can change the life of a
person with a chronic illness-across to the physicians, Mittman
continued. "We see a place for Clinician 1 and all the other social
networking sites, and we are waiting for guidance to see where that

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