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A Year of WOW (20% time) at PatientsLikeMe


What is WOW Week?

PatientsLikeMe has built our own version of Google’s “20% Time” that we call “WOW Week”. WOW Week is a week of unstructured development time for engineers, where they can work on anything they choose to improve our products. This lets people focus on their personal passions or explore riskier ideas. See my more detailed post about what WOW Week is and how it works for PatientsLikeMe.

2011 WOW Week Projects in Review

It’s easy to pay lip-service to the idea of 20% time, but PatientsLikeMe actually dedicates entire weeks at a time. This post showcases what a year of WOW produced in 2011. Each of these projects was initiated by an engineer in their own time and most made it into production.

Clinical Trials (In Production)

Credit: James Kebinger and Jeff Dwyer

Provide a friendly search interface to National Clinical Trial registry and automatically match patients within PatientsLikeMe to relavant trials they qualify for.

Clinical Trials

CDN / Asset Packaging (In Production)

Credit: Winfield Peterson

Host images and stylesheets on a Content Delivery Network (Amazon Cloudfront) and bundle content together to decrease page load time.

Barkeep / Fast Login switching in dev/stage (In Production)

Credit: Michael Berkowitz, Keenan Brock, and Jeffrey Chupp

Add a bar at the bottom of all pages in development/staging systems with useful information and tools: what revision of code is deployed, when it was deployed, an automatic user switcher for test accounts, and background job kickoff. Open-sourced on github.


Mobile InstantMe (In Production)

Credit: Steve Hammond, Thomas Mayfield, Joe Rodriguez, Keenan Brock, James Kebinger, and Doug Martila

A mobile website/application using HTML5 to support tracking InstantMe scores on mobile devices.

Mobile InstantMe

Data Driven Journaling (In Production)

Credit: Jeff Dwyer, Adam Darowski, Cris Necochea, and Scott Listfield

Data Driven Journaling allows every event in a patient’s history to become a narrative point in time and shared with followers. Now the structured data within PatientsLikeMe can really tell your story.


MyCycle (In Production)

Credit: Amy Newell, Doug Martila, Ben Zack, and Scott Listfield

MyCycle adds support for menstrual tracking to the array of health data tracking within PatientsLikeMe.


Email Login (In Production)

Credit: Winfield Peterson

Include a special login token in e-mails so that patients are logged in when they click links from e-mails.

E-Mail Login

Fuzzy Dates (In Production)

Credit: Jeffrey Chupp and Michael Berkowitz

Allow patients to specify dates with varying levels of accuracy or “fuzziness” – just a year, year and month, or a full date and handle the approximate dates correctly.

Fuzzy Dates

Dynamic Labs and Tests (In Production)

Credit: Jeff Dwyer, Brett Heath-Wlaz, and Doug Martila

Allow PatientsLikeMe Health Data Integrity team to dynamically assign different Lab and Test tracking modules to conditions, helping to launch tracking for new conditions more quickly.

Dynamic Labs and Tests

ATEC / Autism Conditions (In Production)

Credit: Adam Darowski, Amy Newell, Michael Berkowitz, Doug Martila, Cris Necochea, and Scott Listfield

Data tools for Autism Spectrum Disorder and related conditions, including the ATEC (Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist) scale.


Accessibility Settings (In Production)

Credit: Cris Necochea

Allow patients to tweak the way PatientsLikeMe.com is displayed to make it easier to use or read.

Accessibility Settings

Friendly Help & Bug Reporting System (Prototype)

Credit: Winfield Peterson

Add a friendlier help popup that links to different help resources and has an automatic screen snapshot and bug reporting tool built in.

Help and Automatic Bug Reports

Patient Mentions (Prototype)

Credit: Jeffrey Chupp, Jeff Dwyer

Allow patients to reference other patients directly by putting an “@” symbol in front of their name, linking to their profile and notifying them when they’re being mentioned.

Ear Burning

Caregiver Quick Start (In Production)

Credit: Adam Darowski

Add a custom Quick Start guide for Caregivers after initial signup.

Caregiver Quick Start

Mobile Forums (Prototype)

Credit: Thomas Mayfield, Cris Necochea, Scott Listfield

Provide a mobile website/application for the PatientsLikeMe forums, designed specifically for mobile use with a simplified UI.

Mobile Forums

Deferred E-mail Verification (Prototype)

Credit: Winfield Peterson

Allow users a probationary 24 hour window to use the site before mandating they verify they’re e-mail address.

Deferred E-Mail Verification

PLM Questions & Answers (Prototype)

Credit: Joe Rodriguez

A new Question and Answers section of the PatientsLikeMe.com website that lets patients ask and answer health questions.

PLM Questions and Answers

PS: We’re hiring Experienced Engineers.

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