About me

What I’m doing now

IMG_1504 (2)Hi, I’m Gordon Heinrichs. I’m a medical writer whose focus is improving people’s health by informing readers about how to identify the best, as well as the substandard, written and verbal doctor-patient communication. My first book in this topic area, Did Your Doctor Pass Communications 101? How Miscommunication Endangers Your Life, is an e-book and is on Amazon. Take a look, it could save your life. 

I’m not a best-selling author yet, but my book offers a unique, practical approach to improving doctor-patient communication as you will see from my posts on this blog. There are already a host of books printed that recommend questions to ask when you go to the doctor, and those are worthwhile books to read for background information. But most of them are impractical.

For example, the American Medical Association produced a book, Guide to Talking to Your Doctor. It says that because “Drug mistakes are a leading cause of illness and death,” it recommends 17 questions to ask your doctor when he/she prescribes medication. Really? Seventeen questions? When was the last time you were able to ask your doctor more than a couple questions during an office visit?

My book reveals what substandard medical communication looks and sounds like so you can catch it immediately and not suffer the consequences of misunderstanding. Consequences that can be fatal.

While working at UnitedHealth Group (UHG) since 2002, I gained my Health Literacy (HL) background that informs my writing in Did Your Doctor Pass… People like me, who are deep into HL, study medical miscommunication and provide guidance towards optimal communication. I’m a Health Literacy advocate.

For the last 4 years at UHG I was privileged to be a part of the Editorial Workgroup team that produced Just Plain Clear Glossary, the premier English/Spanish plain language glossary of medical and insurance terms. It’s free at http://justplainclear.com. You won’t find a better, more informative, easy to understand, medical glossary. The definitions are written in simple English/Spanish.

My first e-book

My first e-book on Amazon was, Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity: A Troubled Past but a Promising Future. https://goo.gl/8Eb0i4 I wrote it because my wife, Ruth, had celiac disease (CD) for over 40 years and CD had become a “popular” and controversial diagnosis. I wanted to provide scientific laboratory validation for what most gluten-free people were already doing—starting the gluten-free diet without first consulting a physician.

I was qualified to write that book because I began my 40-year healthcare career in the early 70’s as a medical laboratory technologist (MLT) in California. After graduating from college and then fulfilling 2 more years of medical laboratory training, I was an expert in laboratory medicine. The expertise is similar to that of a medical internist except without the face-to-face patient experience. As my laboratory background was unique among authors writing books about CD and there was a lot of misinformation written about the laboratory characteristics for a CD diagnosis, I knew I had something valuable to add to the discussion.

Second e-book

My second e-book was a plain-language glossary containing definitions of frequently used medical words regarding CD and written in common everyday language. Its title is, Gordon’s Simple English Gluten-free Glossary. https://goo.gl/riZruf I completed that book after I became immersed in Health Literacy.

Other professional background and personal info

I had a private chiropractic practice for 20 years before beginning my work at UHG. In 2015, after moving to Washington State from San Diego, I retired from UHG and am now able to focus on medical writing and public speaking. I really like golf and could it be by chance that I live on a golf course? 

My reading consists of mostly medical material if I’m not on my Kindle examining the latest in Sci-Fi novels. Ruth and I have 3 kids who live in California and one in Evanston, Illinois, and 6 wonderful grandchildren.

My family history

My ancestors emigrated from the plains of Russia in the 1800’s. They were Mennonites; specifically Mennonite Brethren. With this blog, I want to continue a Mennonite tradition of assisting those who are hurt or damaged by human interaction. In this case, it’s the interaction (miscommunication) between doctor and patient.

As pacifists—and by refusing to take sides—Mennonites have participated in attempts to end conflicts between warring peoples as well as resolving barriers between individuals within communities. This blog will help decrease communication barriers between you and your doctor. You then stand a better chance at a healthy life.


Gordon Heinrichs is a medical writer whose current focus is doctor-patient communication. His third e-book is titled, Did Your Doctor Pass Communications 101? How Miscommunication Endangers Your Life. His varied healthcare background includes teaching health sciences at two universities, a decade working in hospitals as a Medical Laboratory Technologist in California, 20 years of private chiropractic practice, and 13 years working as an executive for a major health insurance company.

He also seeks to advance public health by way of his numerous public speaking appearances which focus on improving doctor-patient communication. 

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