With little fanfare, GE Healthcare has launched a suite of blogs as part of a new campaign called PeerVision. Initially targeting the diagnostic imaging market, PeerVision could easily be expanded to include other health care market segments. Included in the site are a few blogs, a discussion forum, and the usual marketing materials.

Most medical device vendors are pretty old school, and consider things like blogs or discussion forums with distrust. The usual excuse is that as an FDA regulated vendor, everything on their web site is considered "labeling." This is not really true, but it makes a good excuse. GE has overcome this objection with a pretty comprehensive disclaimer acknowledgment that users must accept before accessing the rest of the site. The disclaimer is pretty reasonable, but one part struck me:

User representation — You hereby certify that you are not a paid
consultant or have any other financial interests in the information you
provide to this site including, but not limited to the promotion of
“off-label” product uses or the disclosure of confidential or
proprietary information.

I'm a consultant and clients pay me, so does this mean I can't access the site? My interpretation of this is that if another vendor can't pay a consultant to leave forum posts or blog post comments that represent that vendor's interests. Of course the wording bars the consultant from doing this rather than trying to bar another vendor.

Time will tell whether GE's blogging and forum efforts are successful. There are many things GE can do to ensure adoption and it will be interesting to see if they do any of them and how well they work. The guest bloggers have only written a few posts, and the only posts in the forum are by the moderator. I don't recognize any of the bloggers from other sites, so they may be newbies.

From the Government Health IT story on blogs:

“Blogs are growing, maturing, changing — just
like the first wave of Web sites,” said David Ritter, chairman of the
Labor and Employment Practice Group of the Chicago-based law firm Neal
Gerber Eisenberg, which advises companies on social media practices.
“The health care industry will catch up. But it has to stop being
hesitant about dipping a toe into the social media area.”

As an aside, the folks at Windover Information have a nice blog called In Vivo. Check it out.

UPDATE: Blogger Steve Severance offers his view on PeerVision here. I have to agree with Steve, it is unclear how much mind share PeerVision will actually garner. What is news worthy is that the first medical device vendor has launched Web 2.0 social media (that's geek-speak for the forum and blogs) focused around regulated medical devices. 

If you would like help formulating and executing your own blog or Web 2.0 marketing strategy, let me know.