6 posts tagged “maureen oakes”

A Day in the Life of PatientsLikeMe Product Manager Maureen Oakes

Posted June 20th, 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,  Research Scientist Timothy Vaughan and Biz Dev’er Arianne Graham.  Today we’d like to introduce you to Product Manager Maureen Oakes, or as she’s affectionately known around the office, “Mo.”

PatientsLikeMe Product Manager Maureen Oakes

1.  You’re the Product Manager at PatientsLikeMe.  Tell us what that involves.

A little bit of everything! I read in an article that product managers are like “embedded CEOs” because you drive the core decisions to improve and change the product, which in this case is the PatientsLikeMe website. That means different things depending on the circumstances. Sometimes my job is getting all the right people in the room to make a decision, and sometimes it is making a decision myself. In all cases, it involves listening, asking good questions, weighing all the options and following up to make sure what needs to get done actually happens.

Each day I split my time between planning ahead for enhancements we could make to the site in the coming weeks and months and ensuring the things the engineering team is building now are going smoothly.  For example, when we are trying to decide what to work on, we have to ask, “Is A more important than B? What is affected if we choose to work on C instead? Who benefits most from each of those options and how much work is it to accomplish?” It’s my job to tee up those questions so that we are working on the right things at the right time.

The same goes for things we are building now – there are tradeoffs and decisions to be made all day long.

2.  As a longtime employee, what milestones stick out to you?

There are so many! But I think the first would be the launch of the mood conditions community in 2008. I joined PatientsLikeMe in 2007 so it was the first time I participated in building out a community – hearing the research team’s thoughts on disease measures, showing examples to get feedback from patients, and being there to welcome the first members. There was a New York Times Magazine article about PatientsLikeMe around the time we launched, so several thousand people joined that first week. It was amazing to see the community take off so quickly.

In 2010, we started work on another milestone – a project to open up PatientsLikeMe to anyone with any condition. That was a ton of work, but it was great to have the whole company focusing on a very clear goal and working closely together to achieve it. I was especially motivated because my mother was undergoing treatment for lymphoma at the time, and every day I wished we had had PatientsLikeMe members and tools available for her condition. In 2011, she went into remission and PatientsLikeMe opened its doors to anyone with any condition, so that was huge, both personally and professionally.

Maureen's Famous Boston Cream Pie

3.  You’re also the resident baker at PatientsLikeMe.  What treats do you make?

I’m a big fan of celebrating birthdays so my standing offer is to bake whatever a PatientsLikeMe employee requests for his or her birthday each year.

I’ve made all kinds of things – Oreo and whipped cream desserts, carrot cupcakes, brownies, apple cake, triple chocolate cake. But the biggest challenge has definitely been Boston Cream Pie. It is not easy to make, but it’s a huge hit, so now lots of people keep requesting it.

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Want to make a difference in patients’ lives?  Maureen is currently searching for a Senior User Experience (UX) Designer to join her team.  “This may be my biggest project right now!” she says.  “We already have one great designer, but we need help to keep improving the site at a faster pace.”  Learn more about the benefits of working at PatientsLikeMe on our Careers page.


One for All: A PatientsLikeMe Year in Review (Part 1)

Posted January 3rd, 2011 by

Thanks everyone for a great 2010.  As we kick off the New Year, PatientsLikeMe would like to take a quick look back at the road we’ve traveled together this year.  We think of all these improvements as laying the groundwork for even more exciting changes to come in 2011.

PatientsLikeMe Flash charts

At the start of 2010, we set out to tackle two very important goals that could help you, our members, get the best possible experience out of PatientsLikeMe:  1) unify the way we collect medical information and 2) give more information back to you so you can see how you fit in and compare your experiences with others.  Kate Brigham recently talked about some of the improvements we’ve made on the second goal in her Share and Compare post, but I’d like to share a bit more about the first goal.

Our communities have a lot in common despite their different conditions and health concerns.  As Tommy Maker said in a recent newsletter interview, “I’ve learned that we all care enormously for each other and are very eager to help those who find themselves in the same boat as we are.  But most of all I’ve learned that I am not on my own.”

“We are all in this together” is the sentiment we hear from you time and time again.  In that spirit, we made a lot of changes to unify your experiences across all our communities.  Many of these improvements started in one community where some of you tried functionality and gave us good feedback so we could improve things and share them with all patients.  With the rollout of every product development below, you can now better share and compare your experiences.

Here are some examples of ways our communities have helped each other learn and grow in 2010:

  • Flash charts: We piloted these in the ALS community last January and received a lot of great feedback.  Since that successful pilot, we converted the profile charts in all our communities to these more flexible and easier to understand charts.  This change also enabled future enhancements, like re-organizing your profile and better Doctor Visit Sheets.
  • Condition History: While many of the questions you answer on PatientsLikeMe are very specific to your medical condition, there are a lot of questions that apply to any and all patients.  When did your symptoms start?  Do you have a diagnosis?  Are you taking any treatments?  Now members across communities answer many of the same questions in the condition history so everyone can share and see how their answers compare with the rest of the community.
  • InstantMe: This idea of asking you a quick question about how you are doing started out as InstantMood, and was available only to members of the mood community.  They gave us great feedback and helped us to improve it (especially adding a “neutral” answer choice) before we rolled it out to patients in all our communities in November.  It’s now called InstantMe.
  • Quality Of Life: The quality of life survey we just made available to all members at the end of December was piloted in the HIV and Organ Transplants communities.  By having a way to measure your social, mental and physical well-being, now you can gain a better understanding of how your condition affects you – the whole you.

Thank you to all the members of our community who continue to share and learn along with us.  Watch this year in review video to see how you all have contributed to making the patient experience on PatientsLikeMe one of a kind.

PatientsLikeMe member moakes