Healthy World, Healthy Nation, Healthy You

Hey Doc, Give Me a Little Credit-Patient Engagement in Health Education from the Patient’s Point of View

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. To recognize that the dependence model of the current health care system is being replaced with a collaborative model between the treatment team and the patient/family and that education is a key part of this partnership.
  2. All members of the treatment team involved in education need to give more credit to the patient for what they already know and use this as a baseline for building new knowledge so that the patient is approached as a partner, not as a passive receptor of information coming from experts.
  3. Recognize that we all learn through our own process of experimentation and that with new health information, people will want to “Prove it to Themselves” in order to adopt new health behaviors.


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