Benjamin Heywood, James Heywood, and Jeff Cole are the co-founders of PatientsLikeMe, a health data-sharing platform that aims to improve health care through sharing, support, and research. All MIT engineers, Benjamin, James, and Jeff started PatientsLikeMe in 2004 after their brother and friend, Stephen Heywood, was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease or ALS in 1998. They began searching for ideas that would extend and improve Stephen’s life, and launched PatientsLikeMe to help other ALS patients learn from their experience.
On PatientsLikeMe, users can connect with people like them, share their experience, support others, compare treatments and symptoms, learn from real-world health data, and take control of their health. A for-profit company with a not-just-for-profit attitude, PatientsLikeMe takes the information shared by users and sells it to partners who use the data to improve products, services, and care for patients.
James serves as the company’s chairman while Benjamin is the president and chief privacy officer. Jeff, who previously fulfilled the role of CTO, now works at Google.