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 Necochea, Research 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.
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 email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 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.
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 Moderator, Research Client Manager and more at the moment.