2 posts tagged “PatientsLikeMe Careers”

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.


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.

A Day in the Life of PatientsLikeMe Research Scientist Mike Massagli

Posted December 6th, 2011 by

What’s it like to work at PatientsLikeMe?  We’ll be revealing just that with our new blog series “A Day in the Life,” which features various employees from different departments.  To start this new series off with a veteran perspective, we interviewed Research Scientist Mike Massagli, PhD, one of the longest tenured employees of the company.  Find out what changes he’s witnessed since joining PatientsLikeMe in June 2007.

Research Scientist Mike Massagli Talking to a Patient at Wellness Fair Following the 2008 AIDS Walk Boston

1.   What’s it been like to watch the company evolve over the last four years?

It has been both interesting and gratifying.  Interesting to watch how we evolved from our initial communities – ALS, MS and Parkinson’s, all essentially neurological conditions – to come to grips with other types of chronic disease and to try and achieve a necessary balance between general tools that would be useful to any patient and disease- or condition-specific tools that will be relevant to patients when they are needed.  What has been gratifying is that we have always been able to find people to rise to these challenges.  We’ve found users of PatientsLikeMe very willing to help (and forgiving when things haven’t gone perfectly smoothly), so that we are now in a position to provide all patients with the potential benefits of PatientsLikeMe.

That’s still a work in progress, of course, but the site is getting better all the time.  I am optimistic that we are getting closer to realizing the ultimate power of PatientsLikeMe, which is to fully show the distribution of responses to treatments and help match patients to the part of that distribution that is actually relevant to them.

2.  Talk about PatientsLikeMe’s Journal Club speaker series and why you started it.

The Journal Club is something we started in January 2009 to provide some space and time outside of the routine workflow to discuss (usually) substantive topics relating to PatientsLikeMe.  The goals include:

  • giving people who are working on something behind the scenes some visibility and an opportunity for feedback;
  • sharing research that has implications for the data we collect or how we collect and present it;
  • talking about features in other websites that could have utility in PatientsLikeMe
  • sharing information or ideas about how to foster the growth and ‘health’ of online communities; and
  • presenting intriguing solutions to seemingly technical problems that may have broader implications for the user experience.

We also bring outside speakers who can inform these areas of discourse.  Everyone at PatientsLikeMe attends and is enthusiastic about learning and critically examining new ideas and issues.

3.  What research projects are you working on at the moment?

At the moment I’m finishing up a couple of projects focusing on the experience of organ transplant patients.  For one of them I examined forum posts about issues related to medication adherence, then combined this with a review of the literature and prior measures of adherence problems to design a survey that will provide information describing patient preferences for possible adherence support mechanisms.  In the other project, a survey is being conducted to test a range of questions about patient quality of life that will hopefully result in a more patient-centered set of questions than currently exists.

In addition to those projects, I’m looking at survey data about six-month changes in the status of fibromyalgia patients and testing how that is associated with the use of PatientsLikeMe.  And I’m working with the team to implement revisions to the Multiple Sclerosis Rating Scale (MSRS).

4.  What do you like best about being part of the PatientsLikeMe team?

Being part of the PatientsLikeMe team is a unique opportunity to build something that has the power to vastly improve medicine.  By capturing patient reports of their experience of care and treatment on a large scale and in real time, we can improve understanding of how treatments work and for whom they work IRL (in real life), and be a source of information for people that simply has not existed before.


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 Senior User Experience Designer, Marketing Associate, Research Analyst and more at the moment.