A patient with early stage kidney disease provided a recent wake-up call for Joseph Vassalotti, MD, a leading kidney specialist. After explaining the diagnosis in great detail, the doctor asked his patient to repeat what he had heard in his own words. With a rather bored look on his face, the man said, "Kidney disease, yada yada yada yada." Vassalotti, a nephrologist at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York and CMO of the National Kidney Foundation, was stunned. It was hardly the first time he had explained kidney disease to one of his patients, and he thought he knew how to help them recognize its seriousness and to motivate them to do what they could to forestall the day when their kidneys failed and dialysis or a transplant would be the only option for survival. "I learned a lot from this patient," Vassalotti told me. "Clearly my explanation was not pitched correctly to fit his level of understanding and his attitude toward his health."