Healthy World, Healthy Nation, Healthy You

Consumer Alert: Everything About Health Information is on the Internet–Or Is It?

Dr Sylvia Aruffo , CEO, Communication Science


Dr. Sylvia Aruffo is a leader in patient education technology.

Communications Science is a company dedicated to patient education from the patient’s point of view. She formerly led a direct to consumer department at Baxter Health Care. Prior to joining Baxter, she led a project for WHO-The World Health Organization on health literacy. She started her career in understanding the consumer experience at General Motors and Pepsi companies. She holds a PhD in Ethnolinguistics, an MBA and undergraduate degrees in behavioral science and ethnography.


aruffoEducation for patients is usually an afterthought in most clinical settings and there is not a lot of emphasis on helping  people to help themselves. That is changing with healthcare reform as people will be expected to be more “engaged” in their health and wellness. Therefore, consumers will need to do more for themselves and as such, need more information in order to do so. Sylvia discusses how this will be of value and how best to approach people with information in order to get them to adopt new behaviors.

3 Key Points:

  1. Research on Internet resources reveals that often key information is missing;  key information that is needed to make decisions is incomplete, and the information is often presented in an uninspiring manner, thus not helping people to make needed changes.
  2. Ethnographic research has been used to build care guide tool kits that help people manage their own acute, post hospital care  and chronic illness by presenting needed information in a manner that looks at how to manage illness from the patient’s point of view and thereby supports people  in taking steps that fit their overall health plan.
  3. Self guided care kits take complex information and make it both informative and inspiring for people to take needed steps to manage their own health on a daily basis.

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