PatientsLikeMe: Top Innovative Company in Biomedicine

Reading time: 3 – 4 minutes

PatientsLikeMe is one of 10 biomedicine companies included in Technology Review’s 50 Most Innovative Companies (TR50) for 2012 [1].


What is a TR50 company? It is a business whose innovations force other businesses to change their strategic course. TR50 companies are nominated by Technology Review’s editors who look for companies that, over the last year, have demonstrated original and valuable technology, are bringing that technology to market at a significant scale, and are clearly influencing their competitors.

Founded in 2004, PatientsLikeMe is the leading online community and data-sharing social network for people with life-changing conditions. Patients embrace the open sharing of personal health data because they believe that information can change the course of their disease.

The company launched its first online community for patients with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, in 2006, and subsequently added communities for other life-changing conditions, including multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease, fibromyalgia, HIV, chronic fatigue syndrome, mood disorders, and epilepsy. Within three years, the number of registered users had grown to more than 45,000. In April 2011, PatientsLikeMe allowed any patient with any condition to join. In June 2011, the company reached 100,000 members.

The PatientsLikeMe website today covers over 1,200 health conditions, the largest of which is the ALS community with more than 4,500 patients. The company allows members to add real-world data on their symptoms, conditions, treatment history, side effects, hospitalizations and more on an ongoing basis, resulting a a detailed longitudinal record that allows patients, healthcare professionals, and industry organizations to gain insight and identify patterns.

PatientsLikeMe was chosen to be a TR50 company because their online social health network and shared data platform offer a new way to improve the understanding and treatment of disease. A key innovation of the company is a published, peer-reviewed study, based on data volunteered by site users, that countered the results of a clinical trial assessing the effects of lithium on ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease [2].

PatientsLikeMe recently announced that it entered into a collaboration with Merck to evaluate the impact of psoriasis on patients and to inform a novel approach to improving outcomes [3]. PatientsLikeMe will work directly with clinical researchers and epidemiologists at Merck to analyze and interpret psoriasis patient-reported data.

Interested in other Top Innovative Companies in Biomedicine? Check them all out with the tag Top Innovative Companies in Healthcare.


  1. The 50 Most Innovative Companies in 2012. Technology Review. Accessed 2012 Apr 10.
  2. Wicks et al. Accelerated clinical discovery using self-reported patient data collected online and a patient-matching algorithm. Nat Biotechnol. 2011 May;29(5):411-4. Epub 2011 Apr 24.
    View abstract
  3. PatientsLikeMe and Merck establish health information collaboration focused on psoriasis. PatientsLikeMe. 2012 Aug 13.
About the Author