7 posts in the category “Year in Review”

Tell The World: A PatientsLikeMe Year in Review (Part V – Marketing)

Posted January 7th, 2011 by

epilepsytearsheet08With every new member at PatientsLikeMe, there is more data generated for research, more dialogue about individual experiences, and a more expansive support network.  Additionally, with more patients we can become the world’s largest and loudest representative of the patient voice.  To that end, our job in marketing is to share your stories and tell the world about our community to bring in more patients.

Here are highlights of some of the work we did this year to promote your voice and attract the 32,000+ new members we welcomed to the community in 2010.  (Enjoy the video recap below as well.)

Social Outreach

  • With a full year under its belt, 2010 was a big year for the PatientsLikeMeInMotionTM program. With slick new t-shirts and a new sign-up form, the program just about doubled in size from 38 teams in 2009 to 60 teams in 2010.  More than 1,000 people were rocking PatientsLikeMe t-shirts for their disease awareness walks this year and the company donated $14,800+ in our members’ names to almost 50 nonprofit organizations.  (More about our nonprofit partnerships and work we’ve done with them is coming from Molly Cotter next week).  Finally, we launched our PatientsLikeMeinMotionTM Flickr page, which features hundreds of photos of all of you walking for team PatientsLikeMe.
  • In January 2010, PatientsLikeMe launched its first ever podcast called PatientsLikeMeOnCallTM (hosted by our newest marketing team member, Aaron Fleishman). Through a series of podcasts this year, PatientsLikeMe provided insight from our thought leaders on topics most important to you, spotlighted work with partners and gave patients a place for their real voices to be heard. With more than 1,000 subscribers to date, PatientsLikeMeOnCallTM is ready to bring more content to all of our listeners in 2011. Thanks for stopping by and listening!

  • Along with PatientsLikeMeOnCallTM, PatientsLikeMe continued to spotlight what you’re saying, learning and sharing through our blog (yes, we do manage the content for this lovely page!), Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and more. Our Twitter followers continue to grow with more than 2,100 followers. Our Facebook page now has more than 1,000 fans and our YouTube videos have a combined number of 74,258 views total, with 35,469 views this year alone.

Media Coverage:

Throughout the year, PatientsLikeMe was featured in a number of media stories (see our press page) that highlighted how you are making a difference for other patients and the healthcare industry as a whole.  In fact, many of you were able to share your stories with the world – from your disease experiences to your participation on PatientsLikeMe.  Thank you to everyone who contributed!  Some highlights include: Fast Company (“2010 Most Innovative Companies”), Fortune/CNN (“Tweet your chart”), Wall Street Journal (“Scrapers’ Dig Deep for Data on Web”), Fox News videos, Women’s Health (“Feel Sick Click Here”), NPR (“What Happens When People Migrate To The Internet”), New York Times (“When Patients Meet Online”), TIME magazine (“Group Therapy”) as well as articles in Bio-IT World, InformationWeek, Nature Biotechnology, PharmaTimes, and SmartMoney.

Events, Direct Mail and Newsletters
In addition to attending some events (e.g., 2010 Transplant Games, Parkinson’s Unity Walk) to talk directly to patients, PatientsLikeMe also reached out to medical centers (e.g., epilepsy and transplants) to inform physicians about how patients are benefiting from being members of PatientsLikeMe (see above).

Finally, we’re thrilled to hear how much you enjoyed the monthly community newsletters in 2010.  Altogether, we published 90 newsletters this year and featured many of your fellow community members in patient interviews (which also appeared here on the blog). Based on your feedback, we also finally launched an archive section on our site so you can catch up on all the latest and greatest from PatientsLikeMe.

Spreading the word is what we do in marketing, and we can say it is has truly been a pleasure telling the world about all that you do and all that you share through PatientsLikeMe.  2011 will only be better.  Thank you and Happy New Year!

PatientsLikeMe member lscanlon

Tech Talk: A PatientsLikeMe Year in Review (Part IV – Tech)

Posted January 6th, 2011 by

tech5The PatientsLikeMe engineering team is excited to highlight some of the work that went on behind the scenes in 2010 to make this site what it is today.  We tend to write more specifically about our work on a separate blog (http://tech.patientslikeme.com), so feel free to follow our work there as well.

In addition to building the new site features you see (discussed in other blog posts), our team of engineers work tirelessly to continuously improve the site for you.  Here are some highlights of the work they’ve done in 2010:

The Team
Early in 2010, Co-Founder Jeff Cole moved over to our data operations team where he now leads the way in analyzing the data you share.  In leading the engineering team this year, I’m thrilled to report that we accomplished one of our top goals – to grow the team without detracting from the culture that makes us great.  With 13 team members and growing, we closed out 2010 with a larger team than we had in 2009 and have maintained the high caliber of engineers by refining our hiring process during the year (see the PatientsLikeMe Tech blog for more details).  We pride ourselves on hiring the best of the best Ruby on Rails engineers; Ruby is an open-source framework that lets you write beautiful code and share it with other engineers to learn and improve.

The Process
To make the site run smoothly for 80,000+ members, we need to have a solid set of processes.  This year, we used a set of processes called “Scrum,” an iterative methodology used for agile software engineering.  Here’s a peek at what happens behind the scenes to help make changes to the site more efficient and seamless to you:

  • Sprints: We break our work into two week chunks called an iteration, or a sprint, during which time we complete, test and push site enhancements – everything from bug fixes to new features. By committing to getting changes out every two weeks, we can roll out new features and incorporate your feedback more quickly than before.
  • Demo/Retro: We added two new Scrum ceremonies to our standard set of processes, demo and retro. At the end of each iteration, we demonstrate (“demo”) the accomplishments of our last sprint for the entire company to 1) help everyone see what is new and ask questions that we anticipate from you and 2) help us get feedback that we can use to make things better. After demo, we have a retrospective (“retro”) on the work we just did to the site. This is all part of our drive for continuous improvement.
  • Tech and Wow Weeks: PatientsLikeMe has always had a philosophy of keeping technical debt (or the slow build up of tech problems) as low as possible. In 2010, we formalized our strategy for dealing with technical debt in Tech Week. To make the site more efficient for you, every two sprints we take a week to prioritize and remove pain points (such as performance issues, upgrades and bugs) or make infrastructure improvements (including server changes or new tools). After Tech Week, we then take a week where individuals around the company can work on what ever they want to “Wow” us.  Wow Week is our opportunity to try out new ideas. Some of thescreen-shot-2011-01-06-at-41223-pmm are great and become site features, including the new “symptom sandwich” charts (see right). We also work on ideas you’ve submitted to us during that time, like a prototype of a mobile application for the site.
  • Performance: Have you noticed the site loading more quickly in 2010? We dramatically improved our performance monitoring tools to help make some big improvements in site performance. (Note: there’s more work to be done in making the “slow” pages faster.)

Looking Ahead to 2011

Here are a few of the engineering improvements we have in mind for 2011:

  • Continued Performance Improvements: We will be constantly working to make the site perform better, even as we add new features. We crunch a lot of data on each page, and try to customize many of them for each of you. It can be a challenge doing this at “webspeed,” but we have new hardware for the servers in the works and will continue working on our software to improve this.
  • Continued Team and Process Growth: To get even more done for you this year, we need to continue to grow the team with a high caliber of engineers and continuously improve the way we do our work. You may not see much of this directly, but you will see the results.
  • Thought Leadership: PatientsLikeMe is a thought leader in healthcare and we have one of the best engineering teams in the business. This year, we will be more aggressive in sharing our tools and ideas with our software engineering community to learn and improve on what we do.

While we’re excited about our accomplishments in 2010, we promise to continue making improvements to the site in the coming year to help you make the most out of the sharing you do through our site.  Here’s to a faster, stronger, better platform in 2011.

PatientsLikeMe member shammond