Case | HBS Case Collection | February 2011 (Revised November 2012)

PatientsLikeMe: An Online Community of Patients

by Sunil Gupta and Jason Riis

Abstract

PatientsLikeMe (PLM) is an online community where patients share their personal experiences with a disease, find other patients like them, and learn from each other. The company was founded by Jamie and Ben Heywood when their 29-year-old brother was diagnosed with ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease. In less than five years, PLM has grown to 15 patient communities where over 80,000 patients discuss 19 diseases. In December 2010, PLM is discussing its planned launch of a General Platform that would expand the number of diseases covered from 19 to over 3,500. Is it the right move, and what does PLM need to do to make it a success?

Keywords: Business Startups; Health Disorders; Knowledge Sharing; Growth and Development Strategy; Product Launch; Market Platforms; Social and Collaborative Networks; Health Industry;

Citation:

Gupta, Sunil, and Jason Riis. "PatientsLikeMe: An Online Community of Patients." Harvard Business School Case 511-093, February 2011. (Revised November 2012.)