4 posts from December, 2007

Happy Holidays! PatientsLikeMe Update: December 2007

Posted December 25th, 2007 by

As 2007 comes to a close, we want to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season. Thanks for being a part of the PatientsLikeMe family!

In order to continue to create online homes for patients with life-changing conditions, we need to continue building a solid team. Therefore, we plan to expand our staff in the new year, which is why we’ve recently added a “Careers” page on our site. There is currently one active posting for a Senior Application Developer with even more in the works. If you know someone who might be a fit, please let them know about the career opportunities offered at PatientsLikeMe. We essentially look for talented individuals with an interest in helping patients. So we figured, who better to ask for referrals than you!

Again, we wish you all the best of holidays with 2008 being the best year to come.

PatientsLikeMe member dwilliams


The Value of Openness

Posted December 13th, 2007 by

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Welcome to the PatientsLikeMe blog. Here you will get firsthand accounts of our growth and how we are impacting global health care. Why have we chose the name “The Value of Openness”? Read our Openness Philosophy below, and you’ll see why.

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Openness is a good thing.

Most healthcare websites have a Privacy Policy. Naturally, we do too. But at PatientsLikeMe, we’re more excited about our Openness Philosophy. It may sound counterintuitive, but it’s what drives our groundbreaking concept.

You see, we believe sharing your healthcare experiences and outcomes is good. Why? Because when patients share real-world data, collaboration on a global scale becomes possible. New treatments become possible. Most importantly, change becomes possible. At PatientsLikeMe, we are passionate about bringing people together for a greater purpose: speeding up the pace of research and fixing a broken healthcare system.

Currently, most healthcare data is inaccessible due to privacy regulations or proprietary tactics. As a result, research is slowed, and the development of breakthrough treatments takes decades. Patients also can’t get the information they need to make important treatment decisions. But it doesn’t have to be that way. When you and thousands like you share your data, you open up the healthcare system. You learn what’s working for others. You improve your dialogue with your doctors. Best of all, you help bring better treatments to market in record time.

PatientsLikeMe enables you to effect a sea change in the healthcare system. We believe that the Internet can democratize patient data and accelerate research like never before. Furthermore, we believe data belongs to you the patient to share with other patients, caregivers, physicians, researchers, pharmaceutical and medical device companies, and anyone else that can help make patients’ lives better.

Will you add to our collective knowledge… and help change the course of healthcare?

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Thoughts? Comments? We’re always eager to engage in conversation regarding openness of health data.

Thanks, and welcome to “The Value of Openness”.

PatientsLikeMe member dwilliams


PatientsLikeMe at the Toronto ALS/MND Symposium

Posted December 7th, 2007 by

This year PatientsLikeMe was the major sponsor of the 18th International ALS/MND Symposium held in Toronto, Canada. Research scientist Paul Wicks, marketing officer Lori Scanlon, and community liaison Emma Willey were all in attendance to tell people about the site. We first started telling the ALS/MND community about us at the Yokohama conference in 2006, with Paul walking doctors and researchers through the site on a laptop. This year we decided to invest more in setting up an eye-catching booth which had people coming up to us to admire our space-age gadgets as much as to see the site!

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Over the course of 4 days we spoke to hundreds of conference delegates. Many doctors had said that they had been invited to join the site by their patients and were curious to find out more. We were able to use our new Google Mapping feature to show them where their local patients were, which had people queuing to see who they knew that was registered on the site! Several researchers were also interested in forming collaborations and we hope to be able to get our users involved in more research over the coming year.The most common questions people had for us were:

– Do people really want to know about their progress?: Our answer would be that PatientsLikeMe allows them the option to find out if they choose. Many professionals feel that it is their responsibility to protect patients and carers from distressing information. However, we believe that everyone’s information-seeking preferences are different and by giving people the choice we are empowering them.

– Don’t you get a lot of people pushing their products?: We have a few ways of preventing this. First there is our community of members, who are a very switched-on group. If anybody posts something suspicious or overtly commercial we normally hear about it in a matter of minutes and are able to respond appropriately. Secondly we have a clear emphasis on sharing what has been helpful, but we ask people not to try and persuade others to change their regime; that is a choice for them to make. Finally, by giving patients the tools to look at each other’s outcomes, we encourage people to put their data where their mouth is. If “supplement x” has worked wonders for them, we would encourage them to enter in their data so other people can see for themselves.

– What does this cost patients?: Nothing! Because our business model involves partnering with pharmaceutical companies to encourage their participation in disease communities, we don’t have to rely upon advertising, spam, or subscription fees to sustain our activities. We feel that being a neutral space from the perspective of industry and non-profits is best for everyone.

– Can we tell our patients about this?: Sure! We’d like nothing more. In the new year we’ll be distributing leaflets to all the ALS/MND clinics we can find so that they can invite patients and caregivers to join us.

On the penultimate day of the conference, one of our research team, Paul Wicks, gave a platform presentation describing PatientsLikeMe and presenting some of the research that’s been carried out on the site.

His talk was met with an enthusiastic response and was identified as a highlight of the symposium by several delegates. Click the video below to hear Paul take you through his eight minute presentation.

Dr. Paul Wicks

Without doubt, one of the most inspiring parts of any conference is meeting up with our users, and we were thrilled to see a few of them at the conference. We heard how PatientsLikeMe helped them understand more about their condition, meet other users in their area, and made them feel like they were a part of the fight against ALS/MND. Next year the conference is in Birmingham, UK, and we look forward to having lots of ground-breaking research to show off there!

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PatientsLikeMe T-Shirts

Posted December 7th, 2007 by

As the holiday spirit finally came upon us we thought we should do something nice for our members. There are thousands of them (and many more every day), so it isn’t reasonable to thank every one (we may look like Santa Claus, but we’re not, sadly). So we decided to thank the “stars” of the community – our three star members- and send them a PatientsLikeMe package with a rare PatientsLikeMe T-shirt, and other goodies.

Here are some of our members showing off their new shirts….

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This is one of our longer-time MS members, jhcamero, who has recorded 12 years of treatment and symptom information on the site. You have to love the “Christmas Story” lamp and stocking in the background.

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This is Kakijade, who was diagnosed fairly recently, and has used the site to track her care since joining in August. Both of these members are frequent contributors to the site. Both are being treated with newer meds, and their sharing of their experience with these drugs is very helpful for other members.

PatientsLikeMe is about patients sharing their experiences and outcomes with each other so they can all better manage their disease and make the best possible decisions. These profile stars reflect how much sharing members are doing with one another. Three-star patients have provided detailed current and historical healthcare information about their condition. Having these complete profiles really helps others understand the history of the progression of the condition, and how it has been treated.

Everyone who had received their PatientsLikeMe package has been delighted, and we’re told they’re wearing them with pride, sharing their excitement for what the site means for them.

We look forward to sending out many more of these “thank you” packages to our three-star members.

As they say, “ho, ho, ho!”

Tim Horgan