36 posts tagged “Ben Heywood”

PatientsLikeMe Co-founder Ben Heywood reflects on a recent visit from Dr. Jill Biden

Posted June 10th, 2016 by

Last month, PatientsLikeMe was honored to host a special visitor — Dr. Jill Biden was in town as part of the Cancer Moonshot Initiative announced by President Obama in his 2016 State of the Union Address. She made time to stop by our office to learn more about how PatientsLikeMe works and how members use the site to manage their health and improve outcomes.

During her visit, Dr. Biden was greeted by Co-founder Ben Heywood, who introduced her to some of the folks behind the scenes here at PatientsLikeMe. Ben sat in on a roundtable discussion with Dr. Biden and four patients from our community — Phyllis, Jackie, John, and Laura.

Here’s what he had to say about what the experience meant to him and PatientsLikeMe…

Ben Heywood and his mother, Peggy Heywood (left), pose with Dr. Jill Biden during her visit to PatientsLikeMe.

PatientsLikeMe was founded on a simple idea: when patients connect to share their experiences, they can learn from each other how to better manage and treat their disease, and improve their outcomes. We’ve been honing the way we help our members do this for over a decade now, but Dr. Biden’s visit last month was external validation of this simple idea inspired by my brother Stephen’s ALS — and the not-so-simple work that our members and our team are doing now on a much broader scale. It’s important that policymakers understand the challenges of those with chronic illnesses and what it’s like for them to live within today’s medical system.

I think what resonated most with Dr. Biden was hearing our members’ stories. We invest so much money in healthcare and have made incredible strides in technology and advancing treatments. Yet traditional clinical care only accounts for a certain percentage of outcomes. It doesn’t encompass the rest of a patient’s life and environment — access to good nutrition, financial stress, daily life — which are likely to have as significant an impact on one’s illness.

It’s important to understand the full narrative of the patient experience in order to begin to think about that problem more holistically. As Dr. Biden looks at big data and other things, I hope it will bring new focus to the importance of understanding this narrative and putting it into a data framework.

From a policy standpoint, there are clearly things that need to be advanced. The Affordable Care Act took away pre-existing conditions for health insurance. That needs to be considered in other areas like life insurance, long-term care, and other areas. I believe we should be talking more about laws around preventing data discrimination and protecting personal medical information, much like in GINA (the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act). I hope Dr. Biden will continue to advocate and fight for patient-centricity. This means investing in and doing all the work necessary to meet patients where they are, give them access to meaningful data, and allow the most active and engaged patients to show what’s possible with their own information.

Dr. Biden’s visit was also significant on a personal level. I lost my brother, Stephen, and Dr. Biden and my mother lost a son. That’s a strong shared connection. What I think Stephen did for our family was give us the moral authority to amplify the voice of patients. While it’s amazing what medicine can do today, we can still do better.

I believe the Bidens experienced something similar to the calling we felt — the realization that that fundamentally, the healthcare system should be about patients, for patients, and designed to help patients get the most benefit. And the starting point is effectively measuring what patients value most in their care.

 I’m very proud of our team and how we’ve worked together with our patient community to demonstrate what’s possible in healthcare. For me personally, it’s really powerful and exciting to have the spotlight shown on that and to really highlight this part of our work.

Roundtable discussion with Dr. Biden

 

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You helped us reach our goal for #24DaysofGiving!

Posted December 30th, 2015 by

That’s right, you did it again! A big thank you to the PatientsLikeMe community for helping us reach our #24DaysofGiving goal for the second year in a row. Together, you donated 476,243 health data points!  We’ll be making a $20,000 donation to Make-A-Wish® Massachusetts and Rhode Island to help fund life-affirming wishes for seriously ill children.

The final numbers? Check them out:

  • 28,998 treatment reports
  • 117,948 symptom reports
  • 122,249 health outcomes

To show our appreciation for all that you’ve done, we wanted to do something special in return. We made a video featuring some PatientsLikeMe staff talking about why your data donation matters. You’ll hear from co-founders Ben and Jamie Heywood, CEO Martin Coulter and team members from all parts of PatientsLikeMe.

From all of us at PatientsLikeMe, thank you for re-thinking what it means to give this holiday season.

Data for you. For others. For good.

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RWJF Awards Grant to PatientsLikeMe to Develop New Measures for Healthcare Performance

Posted December 8th, 2015 by

Patient Network to Work with the National Quality Forum to Ensure Patients Drive Healthcare Value  

CAMBRIDGE, MA., December 8, 2015PatientsLikeMe has been awarded a $900,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to help jumpstart changes that will amplify the patient voice in the measurement of healthcare performance.

A portion of the grant funds a collaboration between PatientsLikeMe and the National Quality Forum (NQF) to develop, test and facilitate the broader use of patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) to assess patient-reported health status. While PROMs have been used in clinical research, they are rarely used in routine clinical care to assess provider performance. In such settings, performance is primarily assessed by what was done to the patient (using process measures) and what happened to the patient (using clinical outcome measures), but not always by what may be most important to the patient.

The grant comes as value-based purchasing is gaining ground in both the public and private sectors, with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) setting aggressive targets for linking performance related to quality, value and patient-centered care to payment. “Measuring what is relevant, useful and actionable for patients has never been more important,” said PatientsLikeMe Co-founder and President Ben Heywood. “This initiative will help quantify the patient experience at the clinical level, so that real patient outcomes can start to prompt changes in behavior, help tailor care, and improve reimbursement. With it, we’ll start to move the whole system toward more patient-centered care.”

NQF is a not-for-profit, nonpartisan, multi-stakeholder, membership-based organization that works to help advance improvements in healthcare. It evaluates, endorses, and selects measures of quality, safety and cost for accountability. The collaboration with PatientsLikeMe is one of several that are part of NQF’s new Measure Incubator, an innovative effort that holds the potential to facilitate measure development and testing more efficiently through collaboration and partnership.

NQF’s Chief Scientific Officer, Helen Burstin, MD, MPH, sees the collaboration with PatientsLikeMe as the answer to an urgent need for new measures that can improve health and healthcare outcomes.

We have an abundance of clinical measures, but we need to better incorporate the voice of the patient into performance measurement,” said Dr. Burstin. “We must be able to accurately measure and understand the patient’s day-to-day experience living with pain and fatigue as well as how they are functioning with routine activities to get the full picture. PatientsLikeMe’s inherent focus on patients will move us closer to having the patient voice be the driver and definer of health care value.”

Creating measures that matter to patients became easier in 2013 when RWJF gave PatientsLikeMe a grant to create the Open Research Exchange (ORE), an open-participation platform that allows researchers to connect with PatientsLikeMe’s 380,000 members to create, test and validate new measures. The collaboration with NQF will initially use the ORE platform to ask patients to prioritize measures, then PatientsLikeMe will develop and test them. This process will ensure that when implemented in clinical care settings, the measures broadly show a patient population’s progress and reflect health outcomes that are important to patients that can then be used to assess an organization’s performance and ultimately to determine reimbursement.

About Patient-Reported Outcomes Tools & Performance Measures

Patient-reported outcomes (PROs) are defined as any report of the status of a patient’s (or person’s) health condition, health behavior, or experience with healthcare that comes directly from the patient, without interpretation of the patient’s response by a clinician or anyone else. Various tools such as questionnaires, scales, or single-item measures that enable researchers, administrators, clinicians and others to assess patient-reported health status for physical, mental, and social well-being are referred to as PRO measures (PROMs). PROMs have been commonly used in clinical research because they are based on patient input, and can help ensure that the treatments developed actually help people feel better and improve symptoms or function. Their application in the clinical care setting is limited, but growing interest among various stakeholders is moving PROMs into more routine use for performance measurement. An example of this is the widely used Patient Health Questionnaire 9 (PHQ-9) that screens and monitors the severity of depression. In a clinical setting, PROMs can help monitor patient progress over time at the individual and population level and support shared decision making. A PRO performance measure (PRO-PM) is based on aggregated patient-reported data and is used to assess quality of care for accountable entities, such as hospitals, physician practices or accountable care organizations (ACOs). NQF endorses PRO-PMs for purposes of performance improvement and accountability.

Contact
PatientsLikeMe
Katherine Bragg
kbragg@patientslikeme.com
617.548.1375


The Theory of Everything

Posted November 6th, 2014 by

Between the Ice Bucket Challenge and movies like “You’re Not You” (about a classical pianist who is diagnosed with ALS), there has been a ton of awareness going on for ALS, with many efforts focused on the personal stories of people living with the neurological condition. And this month, ALS is being spotlighted again in a biographical movie coming out very soon.

“The Theory of Everything” is about the life of renowned physicist Stephen Hawking, who has been living with ALS since the 1960s. Despite being given a grim diagnosis, he defied all odds and became one of the leading experts on theoretical physics and cosmology. Stephen Hawking’s story reminds us of the reality of ALS, but is also an inspiration to all who are living with motor neuron disease.

The movie premieres on November 7th in the U.S. – check out the trailer below.

 

As many out there might already now, movies like “You’re Not You” and “The Theory of Everything” hit close to home for the PatientsLikeMe family. In 1998, Stephen Heywood, the brother of our co-founders Ben and Jamie, was diagnosed with ALS. Their experiences – as a patient, as caregivers, and as a family led to the beginning of the online community patientslikeme.com.

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A new collaboration and the work ahead: An interview with PatientsLikeMe Co-founder and President Ben Heywood

Posted April 11th, 2014 by

Earlier this week, PatientsLikeMe announced a five-year collaboration with Genentech. Our goal? To bring your experience – the patient experience – to a company that wants to learn more from the people who are living with serious diseases, and to better integrate your insights into their decision-making as they develop new medicines. PatientsLikeMe Co-founder and President Ben Heywood talks more about the work ahead.

So, why Genentech? What do you hope to achieve through this partnership?

Genentech is a leading biotech company and an acknowledged leader in oncology (which is where our initial focus will be).

We spoke with their teams for quite some time before embarking on this collaboration and I have to say that we just really like their approach. We’re very much aligned in our goals of defining a more patient-centric approach to research, development, and care delivery.

Their goal in working with us is to explore the use of our PatientsLikeMe network to develop innovative ways of researching peoples’ real-world experience with disease and treatment. I think we also hope and expect this collaboration will encourage broader engagement of others involved in the delivery of healthcare to support a stronger voice for patients like you.

How does this differ from your other collaborations?

What’s different with Genentech is that we’ll be exploring on a broader scale how the use of our patient network might develop new ways to research the patient experience. The broader access should allow for more agile, real-time use of the data and help align the strengths of the platform with Genentech’s priorities. This collaboration also helps PatientsLikeMe expand our cancer community, and we’re excited to be partnering with such a leader in oncology research and development on that.

How does this move “put patients first?”

Genentech is a forward-thinking company that is continuously working to patients at the center of their decision-making. By providing Genentech access to the health data shared by the members of our network, it will help them learn more from patients like you and better integrate your insights into their decision-making as they develop new medicines.

Is the focus on cancer new for PatientsLikeMe?

We have a community of people with cancer that have been using the site since we opened it up to people with any condition in 2011; many right now list cancer as a secondary condition, although some list it as their primary. Part of this collaboration is about using resources to enhance the tools within our network to help make the site even more useful for cancer patients. Of course what we build for one community will benefit all, much like we’ve done all along. The end result is a website that better serves people’s needs.


As 2013 winds down… Part II

Posted December 30th, 2013 by

PatientsLikeMe Employees Raising Their Hands for Rare Disease Day 2013When we kicked off 2013 back in January, we shared that what inspires everyone at PatientsLikeMe to live better is YOU. We also renewed our promise to continue putting patients first, and a couple days ago we posted on the blog about just some of  the ways the community has continued to change healthcare for good by adding their voices to real-time research and sharing personal health experiences.

 

 

 

 

 

In just this last year, PatientsLikeMe…

There’s even more you can check out in our newsroom too.

Also on the blog…

And last, but not least…

the PatientsLikeMe website got a makeover in November. Haven’t seen it yet? Take a short, one-minute virtual tour with Kim Goodwin, our Vice President of User Experience.

From everyone at PatientsLikeMe, thank you and Happy New Year!


PatientsLikeMe in real life: Reporting back from RARE Patient Advocacy Summit

Posted October 4th, 2013 by

I was in Newport Beach, CA with one of our founders Ben Heywood, Brad Gescheider from partner marketing, and 125+ caregivers, researchers, patients, and advocates—including a member of PatientsLikeMe! MS member since 2010 slowmo_tam joined me for a day full of tips on patient advocacy, empowerment, and collaboration at the RARE Patient Advocacy Summit.

Ben was on a panel discussion about connecting communities online, which was a hot topic of the day, along with patient registries, and putting patients and their families first. @bheywood joined Kyle Brown of @patientregistry, @ThePatientsSide of @caresync, and @bar2bar2 to share about how open and patient-centric registries with information that all stakeholders care about—physicians, patients, researchers, caregivers—are better for research. Partnering expands resources to support a robust and large registries, and listening to what patients and families are saying creates a better set of information. Here’s a cool doodle from @dianedurand with a summary of the panel:

RARE

Collaboration is not only key when it comes to open registries, we learned on another panel with @billstrong of @gsfoundation, John of @Child_Neurology, @keeganj of @fpwr, and Sue of @TaySachs. Collaboration is also important for nonprofits and people thinking about starting a nonprofit. It’s not a zero sum game: when nonprofits collaborate, they can achieve more, together. Having a defined mission and clear intentions helps to define roles of each advocate and nonprofit. Here’s another doodle recap of that session.

The highlight of my day was definitely spending time with PatientsLikeMe member slowmo_tam. She has a wonderful presence in our MS community, and getting to know her in real life was a lot of fun. She said to me after the event “I feel like I’ve known you forever”—which certainly is the case. Online relationships are great, but there’s something special about putting a face to a name/screenname.

Lots of great energy and ideas from the patient advocacy summit. Thank you Global Genes | RARE Project for bringing us all together!

PatientsLikeMe member LizMorgan


The Open Research Exchange- A talk with Paul Tarini and Ben Heywood

Posted August 30th, 2013 by

Founded on a philosophy of “openness,” PatientsLikeMe aggregates patient-reported data from over 200,000 members on 2,000 diseases, analyzes them and shares the results with healthcare and life science companies to accelerate research and develop more effective treatments.

With support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, we’re now building the Open Research Exchange (ORE) so that researchers, clinicians, academics and patients can collaborate to put patients at the center of the clinical research process. ORE will be the hub where we can work together to develop new health outcome measures and increase our collective understanding of disease – faster than ever before.

Hear RWJF Senior Program Officer Paul Tarini and PatientsLikeMe Co-Founder and President Ben Heywood talk about ORE.

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PatientsLikeMe creates largest open registry of IPF patients in the world

Posted August 22nd, 2013 by

Community One of Website’s Fastest Growing;
Reveals Real-World Picture Of Daily Life With the Rare Lung Disease


CAMBRIDGE, Mass.— August 22, 2013—
In a few short months, PatientsLikeMe has created the largest open registry of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) patients online, and some of the most current patient-reported data on the disease. The information the community has shared is providing new clues about the condition and giving a rare look into what it is like to live daily with a disease that has no known cause or cure.

According to the National Institutes of Health, pulmonary fibrosis causes scarring in deep lung tissue over time, making it harder for the lungs to move oxygen into the bloodstream. Cases where the cause of the disease is unknown are called IPF and usually affect middle-aged and older adults, more typically men, and an estimated 100,000 people in the United States.

The company’s focus on IPF accelerated earlier this year when it announced a collaboration with Boehringer Ingelheim to enhance its IPF patient community. Now more than 900 IPF patients use PatientsLikeMe to monitor their health and share information about their experiences with the condition. They can also connect with others like them and find IPF research studies in their area. In the process, members are contributing new, comprehensive data about the disease that will aid clinical research and the development of new treatments.

“We have become a magnet for people who want to learn about living with disease, and a central repository of real-world information on 2,000 common and rare conditions,” said Co-founder and President Ben Heywood. “It’s gratifying to see people gathering faster than ever before to support each other, live better, and contribute vital data to medical research.”

As the IPF community grows, PatientsLikeMe plans to study the challenges in diagnosing the disease and to ask patients about other top priorities for research. IPF patients interested in participating in research to improve understanding of IPF can sign up at http://www.patientslikeme.com/join/ipf/whatisipf.

The data shared on the website to date offer a snapshot of the IPF community’s members and highlight the effect the disease has on their lives:

  • The average age is 64; four out of five are older than 55.
  • 54% are male, 46% are female.
  • Approximately 15% report having familial IPF, a subtype of IPF thought to be genetically related.
  • An initial review of comorbidities shows that pulmonary hypertension, a condition that puts additional stress on the cardiovascular system, is most frequently cited. Other common co-morbidities include type-2 diabetes, gastro-esophageal reflux disease and osteoporosis.
  • Most report limitations to their activity and energy level. Over 90% experience shortness of breath during activities, while over 50% experience shortness of breath by just walking up a few stairs. About 7% are short of breath even when they are sitting down or at rest.
  • Close to 90% have noticed their energy level affected by IPF. About 35% say they often have to nap during the day or are always tired, no matter how much they sleep.
  • About 80% report having a cough. The majority report having a mild or moderate cough, but approximately 15% have severe coughing.
  • Approximately 11% have had unplanned hospitalizations as a result of their IPF in the past three months.

About PatientsLikeMe
PatientsLikeMe® (www.patientslikeme.com) is a patient network that improves lives and a real-time research platform that advances medicine. Through the network, patients connect with others who have the same disease or condition and track and share their own experiences. In the process, they generate data about the real-world nature of disease that help researchers, pharmaceutical companies, regulators, providers, and nonprofits develop more effective products, services and care. PatientsLikeMe is a trusted source for real-world disease information and a clinically robust resource that has published more than 35 peer-reviewed research studies. Visit us at www.patientslikeme.com or follow us via our blog, Twitter or Facebook.


Raising awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Posted May 1st, 2013 by

May is amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) Awareness Month. As many out there know, PatientsLikeMe was inspired by the life experiences of Stephen Heywood, who was diagnosed with this serious neurological disease back in 1998. Stephen’s brothers (Ben and Jamie) made many attempts to slow the progression of his condition, but their trial-and-error approach just wasn’t working. They knew there had to be a better way, and in 2004 PatientsLikeMe was created.

Every year, about 5,600 people are diagnosed with ALS in the U.S. It can affect any race or ethnicity and there is currently no treatment or cure that will reverse or even stop its progression.[1] By getting involved, you can help change that.

31

The ALS Association has put together a terrific calendar of events called “31 Ways in 31 Days.” For each day in the month they’ve created a simple way to get involved and help raise awareness.

 

TDIYou can also find upcoming awareness events on the ALS Therapy Development Institute calendar. There will be picnics, charity golf tournaments and “The Cure is Coming” 5k and awareness walk. And don’t forget, we’d love to sponsor your run/walk team through our PatientsLikeMeInMotion program. Your whole team will get free t-shirts, a donation and more!

Looking for more info on non-profits during ALS awareness month? There are a bunch of organizations dedicated to the cause. A fellow PatientsLikeMe community member put together a great list in his forum thread Comparison of ALS/MND Organizations.

If you’re living with ALS, find others just like you in our growing community of almost 6,000 ALS patients on PatientsLikeMe. Learn what they’re doing to manage their condition with symptom and treatment reports, and share your own experience with a personal health profile or in the community forums.

 


[1] http://www.alsa.org/about-als/facts-you-should-know.html


PatientsLikeMe Names Kim Goodwin and Sally Okun to New Web and Patient Advocacy Positions

Posted March 19th, 2013 by

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.— March 19, 2013—PatientsLikeMe appoints Kim Goodwin and Sally Okun RN to two newly-created positions that will keep patient needs upfront as the company continues to enhance its website and drive industry and government to make more patient-centric decisions. Kim Goodwin has been named Vice President (VP) of User Experience (UX) and Sally Okun has been promoted to VP of Advocacy, Policy and Patient Safety.

PatientsLikeMe Co-founder and President Ben Heywood says the appointments underscore the company’s “patients first” mission. “We’ve been committed to understanding and representing patient interests for years. With Kim and Sally in these roles, we’ll be in an even better position to keep patients at the forefront of all we do – from how we develop our website to how we represent patient interests at an industry and policy level.”

Kim Goodwin
In her role as VP of UX, Kim will evolve the information and structure on www.patientslikeme.com to help people live better lives with their conditions. She plans to expand member involvement in the website development process to improve usability and to make sure the website’s content answers their most important questions. She will also make it easier for members to find and connect with people who share not just the same condition, but the same values and experiences. Additionally, Kim and her new team will improve how researchers and providers conduct research and interact with members on the site.

Kim’s expertise in design has made her one of the most distinguished UX experts in the world. She is a frequent speaker and the author of the 2009 bestseller Designing for the Digital Age, which is heralded as the most comprehensive how-to guide in the field. Before joining PatientsLikeMe she was VP of Design and General Manager at California-based design firm Cooper. Over the years, Kim has also worked with clients including Lexus, Cardinal Health, Abbott, Medtronic Diabetes, Boeing, Cisco, and Best Buy. Her healthcare experience includes work for companies delivering diagnostic and treatment devices, consumer health education and tracking, and desktop and tablet-based electronic medical records.

Sally Okun
As VP of Advocacy, Policy and Patient Safety, Sally plays a vital role in ensuring the patient voice is heard, collected and disseminated to affect better treatment, services and care. As the company’s liaison with government and regulatory agencies, she will bring the patient voice to worldwide healthcare discussions and educate policy makers on the benefits of sharing health data. Previously, she developed the company’s drug safety and pharmacovigilance platform, which monitors patient data for potential adverse events. In this new role, Sally will continue to expand the website’s drug safety content and ensure the data collected about treatments and their impact become more transparent to the community at large.

Recently named a 2013 TEDMED speaker, Sally joined PatientsLikeMe in 2008 and led the team responsible for the website’s medical ontology and curation of patient-reported health data. She has since been a frequent speaker at policy workshops and forums and has contributed to peer reviewed publications and discussion papers for the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and others. She also co-authored a chapter for Health Informatics: An Interprofessional Approach, an upcoming Elsevier textbook. A registered nurse for over three decades, Sally’s clinical practice specialized in palliative and end-of-life care. In that time she also participated in numerous clinical, research, and educational initiatives of national significance.

About PatientsLikeMe
PatientsLikeMe is a patient network that improves lives and a real-time research platform that advances medicine. Through the network, patients connect with others who have the same disease or condition and track and share their own experiences. In the process, they generate data about the real-world nature of disease that help researchers, pharmaceutical companies, regulators, providers and nonprofits develop more effective products, services and care. PatientsLikeMe is a trusted source for real-world disease information and a clinically robust resource that has published more than 30 peer-reviewed research studies. Visit us at www.patientslikeme.com or follow us on our blog, on Twitter or via Facebook.


Out of the Office: PatientsLikeMe Visits ALS Pioneer Steve Saling

Posted December 19th, 2012 by

Earlier this month, PatientsLikeMe Co-Founder and President Ben Heywood, along with marketing intern Jenna Tobey, went to visit the Steve Saling ALS Residence, which is part of the Chelsea Jewish Foundation’s Leonard Florence Center for Living in Chelsea, MA. The foundation has been providing high-quality care for over 90 years and includes the nation’s only specialized ALS residence.

The Steve Saling ALS Residence Is Located Within the Leonard Florence Center for Living in Chelsea, MA

When Steve Saling was diagnosed with ALS, a rapidly progressive neurodegenerative disease, in 2006, he immediately began to “secure a way to provide for care” as his condition advanced. His expertise as an architect, his keen interest in technology and his diagnosis all proved vital as he worked with Barry Berman, CEO of the Chelsea Jewish Foundation, to create the first-ever, fully automated ALS residence. This state-of-the-art residence soon became a reality and opened its doors in August 2010. Despite this tremendous accomplishment, Steve isn’t done yet. He has also created the ALS Residence Initiative in an “effort to duplicate the project nationwide.” The next facility to open will be in New Orleans.

PatientsLikeMe President and Co-Founder Ben Heywood Getting a Tour from Longtime PatientsLikeMe Member and ALS Activist Steve Saling

Steve greeted Ben and Jenna at the door and was excited to get the tour started. Unable to speak on his own, Steve communicates through a sight-based technology that can translate eye movements on a computer screen into audible speech. As he showed Ben and Jenna the residence, Steve demonstrated the independence that advanced technology and the center provide him by opening doors, turning on lights, operating elevators and changing TV channels. The foundation also encourages this independence by getting their residents out and about.  Steve described some of their recent excursions, like going to the movies, downhill skiing at Nashoba and traveling to Disney World.

The Dining Area of the Steve Saling ALS Residence

Steve became a PatientsLikeMe member seven years ago following his diagnosis. Since then, he has been a model community member, regularly updating his symptom reports and frequently chiming in on the ALS forum. In his PatientsLikeMe profile summary, Steve says, “I accept my new challenges and take a great deal of satisfaction in adapting to my losses.” The PatientsLikeMe ALS community is nearing 6,000 members, with patients learning from each other’s shared experiences every day.  Join the conversation anytime; they’d love to hear from you.

To learn more, check out the video below, in which Steve discusses “the dire need for residential living options for the chronically disabled.”

ALS & MS Residences at the Leonard Florence Center for Living from Steve Saling on Vimeo.


PatientsLikeMe at the 2nd Annual White Coat Affair for ALS TDI

Posted November 28th, 2012 by

On Friday, November 2nd, several PatientsLikeMe team members donned their finest to attend the 2nd Annual White Coat Affair, a charity gala benefiting the ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI).  Founded by PatientsLikeMe Co-Founder and Chairman Jamie Heywood in 1999, ALS TDI is the world’s most advanced research laboratory dedicated to ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

The PatientsLikeMe Team Along with ALS Patient Steve Saling (Front) at the 2nd Annual White Coat Affair for ALS TDI

This gala fundraiser was held in conjunction with ALS TDI’s 8th Annual Leadership Summit, which included in-depth scientific presentations by top ALS researchers, a discussion panel with industry leaders and an awards ceremony honoring individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to ALS research and advocacy.  (View the summit webcast here.)  PatientsLikeMe was a proud sponsor of this annual gathering of the most influential minds in the ALS community.  In particular, we were honored to witness the posthumous awarding of the Stephen Heywood Patients Today Award – given annually to an individual who exemplifies what it means to be an educator, role model and advocate – to beloved PatientsLikeMe member Persevering (Rob Tison).

Keeping with the Laboratory Theme, The Name Cards Were Inspired by the Periodic Table of Elements

Held at the Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston the next night, A White Coat Affair was an opportunity for summit attendees to unwind and socialize via cocktails, a dinner program, live music and dancing.  In honor of the theme, servers wore white lab coats, name cards were labeled like the periodic table and vases were filled with brightly colored liquid to resemble lab tubes.  A special highlight of the dinner program this year was the Young Perspectives on ALS segment, which featured the stories of two young people living with ALS (Corey Reich and Pete Frates) as well as four young people who are the children of ALS patients (Katie Shambo, Sam Ketchum, Jenn Sutherland and Alex Heywood).

As you might have guessed, Alex Heywood is the son of Stephen Heywood and nephew of PatientsLikeMe Co-Founders Jamie Heywood and Ben Heywood.  Both ALS TDI and PatientsLikeMe were inspired by Stephen’s seven-year battle with ALS, a rapidly progressive neurodegenerative disease with an average life expectancy of two to five years following diagnosis.

Young ALS Patients and the Sons and Daughters of ALS Patients Were the Focus of This Year's Dinner Program

Approximately 350 guests attended A White Coat Affair, helping to raise $450,000 towards ALS TDI’s efforts to discover and develop effective treatments for ALS. After a decade of progress, the institute is entering a time of great promise, with several therapies in clinical trials and their own work on Gilenya (a drug currently approved for treating multiple sclerosis) and other potential therapeutics moving into the clinical realm.  Learn more about ALS TDI’s current research projects here.

To see more photos from the 2nd Annual White Coat Affair, visit the event’s Facebook page.


Recognizing the Rare Disease Community’s Champions of Hope

Posted October 9th, 2012 by

PatientsLikeMe Is Proud to Be Partnered with the Global Genes / RARE Disease Project

Did you know that 1 in 10 people worldwide have rare and genetic conditions?

PatientsLikeMe was a proud sponsor of the 1st Annual Tribute to Champions of Hope, organized by our partner the Global Genes / RARE Project. Held on September 27th in Newport Beach, CA, the gala recognized outstanding individuals who are working to affect change in the rare and genetic disease community.  All proceeds from the event – which attracted celebrities, medical researchers, pharmaceutical executives and even Olympic champions – go to benefit programs for patients and advocates.

PatientsLikeMe

In attendance from PatientsLikeMe were Ben Heywood, Arianne Graham and Deborah Volpe, who got to hear inspirational stories of the work these champions of hope are doing.  Highlights included the Biotechnology Award given to Charles Dunlop of Ambry Genetics and the Mauli Ola Foundation, which organizes therapeutic surf experiences for kids with cystic fibrosis, and a preview of the documentary Here. Us. Now., which chronicles a family with twin daughters diagnosed with Niemann-Pick Type C, a rare, incurable and fatal genetic disease.  Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Henri Termeer, the former President and CEO of Genyzme, aptly summed up all those who received awards as “people that have a sense that if they focus, they can make a difference.”  (Click here to read about all eight Champion of Hope honorees.)

Even the Dessert Made You Think About Your DNA and the Impact of Genetics at the 1st Annual Tribute to Champions of Hope Gala

After uplifting musical performances and talks by celebrity presenters Jason George (“Grey’s Anatomy”) and Nestor Serrano (Act of Valor), the night ended with a heart-stopping, impromptu rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” performed by several rising singer-songwriters, including Chris Mann and Katrina Parker from the “The Voice,”  Elliott Yamin from the fifth season of “American Idol” and Gracie Van Brunt, a young girl battling a rare genetic disease called Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome who performed her own original song earlier in the evening.

Chris Mann, Gracie Van Brunt, Katrina Parker and Elliot Yamin (Left to Right) Performing at the Tribute to Champions of Hope

The gala was followed the next day by the 2012 Patient Advocacy Summit, a forum where patient advocates could discuss issues that directly affect them, from resources to policy. PatientsLikeMe Co-Founder and President Ben Heywood was featured on the Innovative Technologies and Platforms panel, sharing the stage with Dr. David Eckstein of the NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. Discussing the topic of “Accessing the Science,” they each gave an overview of how patient registries and clinical trials are promoting change and advancing medical research.

As a prime example, PatientsLikeMe joined forces with the Global Genes / RARE Project last year to create the RARE Open Registry Project, a resource for patients and families fighting rare and genetic diseases.  What makes it different from other registries is every time you enter data into the system, you receive information back showing how your data compares to others fighting similar diseases or taking similar therapies.  If your family is impacted by a rare or genetic disease, we invite you to join the registry today