By Michael Samuels 09F
Nine out of ten people have trouble understanding health and medical information.
“If nine out of ten people don’t understand something,” reasons Xanthi Scrimgeour 85F, “it says a lot more about who is designing the information than it does about the people struggling to read it.”
That’s why Scrimgeour and her partner, Stacy Robison, founded CommunicateHealth Inc., a health education and communication firm based in Northampton that works to make health information accessible and understandable.
The couple had more than 30 years of public health experience between them when they started the firm. Both spent more than a decade writing and developing health education materials, but Scrimgeour says that they realized that health literacy “needed to be more directly addressed.”
CommunicateHealth allows them to focus entirely on the issue of health literacy, and on finding concrete solutions. “We connect health literacy to technology in useful, usable ways,” Scrimgeour explains. She adds that it’s “something that is not often done or really even on people's radar to do.”
The firm definitely fills a void, as its rapid growth shows. “We started with three people in our attic, three years ago,” Scrimgeour recalls, “and now have an integrated team of 25 writers, health educators, designers, usability associates, and developers with offices in the Washington DC area and Northampton.”
That team includes three other Hampshire alums: office manager Steve Angel 89S, creative director Molly McLeod 05F, and health writer Ariana Adams-Gregg 09F.
“We love to hire smart Hampshire College graduates,” says Scrimgeour.
One of CommunicateHealth’s current projects is called PicturePublicHealth. It “will focus on communicating health through images that portray real people doing real things to promote health,” Scrimgeour explains.
“Health is so much more than a doctor in a white coat.”
Photo by Molly McLeod 05F