Just in time for the Health 2.0 Conference, here’s our guide on how to penetrate ultra-exclusive physician networks. Infected with a case of facebookitis/myspacitis, internet entrepreneurs are setting up an increasingly growing list of networks for MDs and other clinical professionals. The best known one is Sermo.com, an enterprise endorsed by the AMA. Just like other MD networks, it does not rely on invites, but rather on public databases to verify one’s identity as a doctor. So, whether you’re a patient, journalist, or medical consultant, with the help of public databases you can check and see what’s going on behind the closed doors of physicians’ networks. (Disclaimer: the following is for “educational purposes only.” We do not encourage anyone to break any laws, service agreements, or any other “rules.”)
Sermo.com and others require four pieces of information for verification: physician’s name, medical school attended, date of graduation, and the DEA number (yes, the Drug Enforcement Agency).
First, here’s the easy stuff. Every US state has an online database of its physicians, found on each state’s medical board website. They always list each physician’s name, medical school attended and the date of graduation. They also display other related info, such as license number, and history of legal problems. An example: head to New York State’s Online Verification Site for Professions, choose “Medicine (physician, including MDs & DOs)” and enter a doctor’s name. As an example, the search for “Johnson” returns a lengthy list of registered physicians with such last name. In each file, you will find the medical school attended, and the date of graduation.
So, the only missing piece of the puzzle is the DEA number. There are two ways to obtain it: free and for a small fee (usually, $9). The DEA CSA database, while maintained by the DEA, has been outsourced to private companies for distribution. And so they tend to charge money for their services. They charge Sermo.com and others, including your local pharmacy and hospitals, and they want to charge you. Here’s a link to a limited query search over at DEANumber.com. Pay up $9 and your favorite MD’s DEA number is yours. Now you are all set to register at Sermo.com, or any other social network for physicians.
IF YOU DON’T WANT TO PAY, then head on to DEALookup.com, and try their Free Demo. (DEALookup.com requires you to register, but they don’t send a verification email. So you can remain private, if you wish.) The drawback is that they let you search only for physicians with last names starting with the letter A. So, if you don’t care what identity you assume, write down one of the DEA numbers there, last and first name, and then head on to the medical board site for that physician’s state. Find his/hers medical school and graduation date, and you are all set. That was easy. Welcome to Health 2.0!
Update: Reader Marcus H. notes that the easiest way to obtain a DEA number is to simply look at your doctor’s prescription.
More: Confirmed: Sermo Is Not for Physicians Only; New Important Questions Raised …; Open Letter to Dr. Daniel Palestrant, CEO of Sermo.com…; A Note and a Follow Up On Sermo …; Sermo Improves Registration Security; Needs to Do More ….