Sermo.com is a social space for practicing physicians to share personal experiential information with each other. As far as a community of practice model goes it is highly technical and niche to a degree. In the world of long tail and niche content sites this one could be a real good place for those who need that kind of information. Sermo is a company though and they have a business model based on allowing research on the community determined best practices. Moreover they are looking to offer financial incentives physicians who contribute the 'best' information as determined by the community. I do not share Andrew's excitement about the business model of poaching the wisdom of the crowds.
As a patient I sure hope my physician uses this - what could be better than the wisdom of a very intelligent crowd? The one thing that erks me though is that I know physicians are pressed for time, and the thought of some physicians actively profiteering to me seems odd. I love the concept of communal sharing but hesitate a the incentive directly to contributors.
Sermo, I anticipate, will busing monetization strategy #3 from my play book. Open the community to observers and marketers and let them learn from the conversation ... for a very hefty price. Certainly it will be a gold mine for the right industry (paharma, med tech, literature developers) and I can bet they will pay for the access to license the content.