WorldOne, an international survey company primarily serving the healthcare industry, has partnered with a recently formed expert network, ExpertConnect, to improve its expert network capabilities. The partnership allows WorldOne to improve its compliance capabilities, making it more feasible to market to institutional investors.
WorldOne was founded in 2001 to offer surveys of health care professionals in competition to Epocrates. A year ago WorldOne acquired Sermo, a U.S. online physician community, boosting its panel to over 1.8 million healthcare professionals spanning 80 countries, including more than 385,000 US physicians.
ExpertConnect started up in late 2011 with the intent of leveraging a small expert witness service into a full fledged expert network. The firm’s CEO, an ex-Gerson Lehrman director, joined the firm at the beginning of 2012 and the firm also hired former staff from Guidepoint Global. ExpertConnect was born out of American Medical Forensic Specialists (“AMFS”) which has provided medical experts to the legal community for expert witness engagements since 1990. While ExpertConnect’s core sector is healthcare, the firm has expanded coverage to other sectors.
WorldOne offered one-on-one phone consultations with physicians prior to the alliance with ExpertConnect. However, it will benefit from ExpertConnect’s compliance platform and ability to custom recruit physicians for consultations, two requirements necessary to market to the financial community. ExpertConnect benefits by being able to source from WorldOne’s large international panel.
The strategic partnership is a positive sign for the beleaguered expert network industry, which has been marked by consolidation since 2010. Despite relentless insider trading investigations, usage of expert networks appears to have stabilized. At the same time, ExpertConnect’s partnership with WorldOne makes it more competitive in the healthcare sector with the major expert networks: Gerson Lehrman, Guidepoint Global and Coleman Research. However, it is more likely to pick up share from smaller players, many of which have exited or downsized.