5 posts tagged “employee interview”

“My experience as a patient and son helps me”: PatientsLikeMe software engineer Alex’s backstory

Posted March 24th, 2017 by

Meet Alex Bromley, a PatientsLikeMe software engineer who’s living with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and whose mother has fibromyalgia. He recently shared some insight on his and his mom’s conditions, his experiences as both a PatientsLikeMe employee and member and what he enjoys outside of work.

What first drew you to working at PatientsLikeMe? Can you describe what you do in your role here? 

A former employee and friend of mine, Joe, first introduced me to PatientsLikeMe in 2012. I decided to sign up as a patient and see what it was all about. When I saw that it included a robust fibromyalgia community, I was touched personally by the fact that someone like my mother, who has this mysterious condition, could talk and learn about it from other people.

In my current role as a software engineer, I provide technical leadership to the PatientsLikeMe client team. We focus on supporting outside partnerships and collaborations, especially when it comes to custom software development.

How does living with GERD affect you day to day? How do you use PatientsLikeMe as a patient?

For a while, GERD started to change my life. I was no longer able to drink coffee, eat anything with tomatoes and, in general, I was feeling a burning sensation in my esophagus on most days. It started to affect my concentration and my mood. On the plus side, I made some healthy improvements to my life – drinking a lot more water, exercising regularly and cutting down on one of my worst habits (eating late at night). But until I was prescribed Prilosec, it was definitely a frustrating challenge. At this point, the prescription has me feeling pretty much 100 percent, other than the fact that I’ve given up coffee for a strong breakfast tea every morning. I have a cup now and then but, all in all, coffee and my stomach do not get along.

I use PatientsLikeMe to track how I’m feeling and why – I try to leave comments along with my InstantMe. It helps me identify bad habits and external factors that exacerbate my condition. I also like to see how other patients with my condition are faring, what treatments are working, and, in general, it’s been eye opening to see how many other people have experienced the same things I have with GERD.

When was your mom diagnosed with fibromyalgia? Can you share how her diagnosis affected her and your family? 

My mother, Maria, was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, after several fits and starts, in 1997. For some time, we had no idea what was going on. Only after several second opinions, Fifth’s disease and Fibromyalgia were identified as potential culprits for her pain, inflammation, and total fatigue. It had a huge effect on our family as she was always the motor that kept us going. My father worked a lot but really wasn’t very active around the house with chores, cooking, homework and things like that. On top of that, my mother worked as his accountant full-time.

It shook us all for many reasons. I had never encountered a problem our healthcare system did not have some reasonable explanation for or plan to address, other than terminal illnesses. We’ve both taken strength from other people’s stories on PatientsLikeMe, like Team of Advisors member Craig’s inspiring post about fibromyalgia that led my mother to say, “That’s exactly what it feels like!”

How is your mom doing these days? 

My mother still struggles with fatigue and has given up some of her favorite things, like gardening, due to arthritis-like pain. She has to limit her driving time, which results in missing family events on occasion. Really, anytime we plan an event or trip together, it is generally constrained by managing her energy levels. We’re lucky to still be together as a family, but it is definitely something we have to always keep in mind with her. I would like to say that overall she’s doing fine and couldn’t be happier to spend time with my daughter – her granddaughter, Mariana – lately. She watches her two days a week, and I’m not sure it would be possible without PatientsLikeMe. I’m able to work from home on those days and give my mom a quick hand if she is in pain – just another reason we are so grateful to be part of the PatientsLikeMe family.

How does your and your mom’s experience shape your work here?

Typically, I am someone who takes great ideas from other PatientsLikeMe staffers and puts them into practice through software development. But I’d like to think my experience as a patient and son helps me view the website from that vantage point and make good suggestions, if I see anything we can improve.

And, of course, I couldn’t be happier to get up every morning and go to work somewhere that has a truly inspiring mission and has touched my family. It’s a real blessing!

What do you like to do for fun when you’re not at work? 

For the last six months, I’ve been focused on my stepson, Daniel, and his brand-new baby sister, Mariana. She never wants to stop – mostly demanding that I help her try to stand up and walk, walk, walk. Danny’s first language was Spanish, so we spend extra time reading and doing homework to catch up on some of his English skills while we reinforce his already great math skills. We also find plenty of time to play “Just Dance,” ride bicycles, go sledding and all the fun things. Personally, I really like to get outside and stay active – mountain biking, skiing, hiking. It’s a lifelong passion and it helps me stay in good health – something I know not to take for granted. In the evenings, I like to relax with a National Geographic or a good video game like “Tomb Raider.”

 

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A Day in the Life of Biz Dev Team Member Arianne Graham

Posted May 16th, 2012 by

What’s it like to work at PatientsLikeMe?  We are continuing to reveal just that with our monthly blog series “A Day in the Life,” which features employees from different departments.  So far, we’ve interviewed User Experience Engineer Cris NecocheaResearch Assistant Shivani Bhargava, Office Manager Alison Dutton and Research Scientist Timothy Vaughan. Today we hear from Arianne Graham, a Harvard MBA graduate who joined the business development team in 2010.  What current project is she most excited about?  And how is working at PatientsLikeMe different than her previous healthcare jobs?  Find out that and more in our interview.

1.  What’s it like to be part of the business development team?

When spending time with friends and family or even meeting new people, I’m always excited to answer that small talk question: “What do you do?” I happen to think I have the best job ever.

Arianne Graham, Business Development at PatientsLikeMe

As part of the business development team here at PatientsLikeMe, my colleagues and I work with everyone who cares about patients (including providers, researchers, pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, pharmacies, and many more!). We look at how the real-world data shared by our members can transform their businesses for the benefit of patients everywhere.

Sounds like fun, right? Most of the time, it really is. This is also hard work, though. Sometimes I feel as though the rest of the world is not yet ready to hear the patient’s voice. The truth of each patient does not always fit perfectly inside the constraints of a randomized clinical trial or a research protocol. But it’s here to stay, and we are actively finding ways to layer this emerging data source on top of the world in which we live. That’s reason enough for me to get up every day and come to work with my very talented team.

2.  What kind of projects are you working on at the moment?

I am often the first contact for individuals and organizations that contact us via partners@patientslikeme.com or support@patientslikeme.com. We receive multiple messages a day with ideas regarding how PatientsLikeMe might work with another company or integrate a new technology. It’s up to me to prioritize which opportunities to pursue now given the market landscape, and which to save for later.

One of our most basic and popular services is clinical trial recruiting. On any given day, I have to do something related to one of these campaigns. The members that use PatientsLikeMe are probably more likely than most to be motivated to try investigative therapies, to access better healthcare, or to simply participate in research. Finding the right patients for a study can be so difficult, but thanks to the demographic and health data patients report to us, we can easily let patients know about clinical trials for which they may be eligible.

The Clinical Trial Matching Tool at PatientsLikeMe

The project I am most excited about, however, is a clinical trial of PatientsLikeMe as an intervention. We have partnered jointly with a pharmaceutical company and an integrated payor/health system to empirically test the effects of the website on patient activation and health literacy. Additionally, this is one of the first projects to really integrate PatientsLikeMe into the clinical encounter between doctor and patient. We haven’t publicly announced the details yet, so stay tuned. I can’t wait to tell you more!

3.  How have your parents – who are both doctors – influenced your career?

As the child of two pediatricians, I know I was exposed to the healthcare industry and certainly aware of it more early in life than most people. I noticed and appreciated that they treat their patients as people, not diseases. They remain committed to serving their patients, to helping them get better so they can lead productive lives. For them, the medical field is not so much a job as a calling. I know I felt led to serve, too. Even when I abandoned my pre-med plans in college, I knew that healthcare is where my heart is. I just found another way to pursue it.

I cannot imagine working outside of this industry because it appeals to me on so many levels: I can serve others, and I’ll never get bored. Healthcare is what we used to call in consulting a “big, hairy, ugly.” It is messy and complicated, it affects us all, and there are no clear answers. All of that makes this sector intellectually stimulating and extremely rewarding.

4.  You’ve worked for pharmaceutical companies, a hospital and a consulting firm.  How is working at PatientsLikeMe different?

I think all of my previous work experience has prepared me well because I lean heavily on what I know to be true in healthcare in my current role. While I knew exactly what to expect in pharma, hospitals, and in consulting, PatientsLikeMe has proven to be a bit like the Wild Wild West. We are creating a world that never existed before: where patients take charge, and their real experiences are being integrated into the healthcare system around them. There are absolutely no rules yet. It’s exciting and uncomfortable; inspiring and frustrating. And you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Interested in making a difference in patients’ lives?  Check out our Careers page to see our current job openings.  Headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, PatientsLikeMe is looking for a Marketing Coordinator, Community ModeratorResearch Client Manager and more at the moment.