Michael Krouse, Class of 2017
Even before enrolling in medical school, the Class of 2017’s Michael Krouse has been committed to reducing health disparities and improving access to care for the underserved. He’ll spend this summer in Seattle, Wash., where he’ll be part of a program that aims to address the critical shortage in primary care providers.
Earlier this year, Michael was chosen for the GE-NMF Primary Care Leadership Program and its $7,000 fellowship. At Seattle’s HealthPoint Community Health Centers, he’s working alongside primary care physicians to provide patient care and is undergoing leadership training with the centers’ administration and board of directors. As he learns how HealthPoint is funded and operates, he’ll conduct an independent project evaluating patients’ use of a recently launched web-based portal.
“HealthPoint has recently launched a web-based portal that allows its patients to communicate with their providers over a secure messaging system in addition to having access to their patient plan, lab results, and referrals,” explains Michael. “However, not much is known about which patients are logging in and how they are using the portal.”
Patient portals and electronic health records hold great potential for improving care of chronic illnesses and promoting shared decision making by patients and health care providers. They could even help to overcome health care disparities if barriers that discourage patients from accessing the portal are identified and eliminated.
Michael will investigate which of HealthPoint’s patients are using the portal and if there are any trends in users’ gender, race or insurance status. He’ll also analyze which of the portal’s functions are most popular and what kinds of information patients communicate via secure message so that HealthPoint can enhance that function.
“I hope this project will be a step toward ensuring that all of HealthPoint’s patients benefit equally from the portal’s resources,” Michael says.
Michael was born and raised in New Orleans, La. At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he earned bachelor’s degrees in biology and philosophy. He also became interested in health disparities after leading two mission trips to an orphanage for mentally and physically handicapped children near Montego Bay, Jamaica.
Once on the MCV Campus, Michael continued to serve vulnerable populations as a member of the International/Inner City/Rural Preceptorship program. Through the I2CRP, he’s provided health screenings for the homeless at the CARITAS Clinic and primary care at Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services with Melissa Bradner, M.D., M.S.H.A., associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Population Health.
Michael says those experiences have been great preparation for his summer fellowship. He credits Mark Ryan, M.D., Steven Crossman, M.D., and Mary Lee Magee in the Department of Family Medicine for developing a robust program that exposes students to current topics in community-oriented primary care.
“The didactic sessions, panels and site visits in I2CRP increased my awareness of the challenges many communities face with regards to the social determinants of health,” Michael says. “The impetus for applying to the Primary Care Leadership Program was an expression of the lessons I learned in I2CRP and a desire to apply them.”
At its core, the six-week GE-NMF Primary Care Leadership Program is a service-learning rotation that aims to enhance the students’ training by combining clinical experience, site-specific projects and leadership training. In doing so, it aims to increase the pipeline of doctors, nurses and physician assistants who have the professional knowledge, cultural competency and commitment to provide quality healthcare for all members of a diverse society. Launched in 2012, the leadership program is made possible through a partnership of the General Electric Foundation and National Medical Fellowships, Inc. This year, 78 medical, nursing and physician assistant students are studying at nearly a dozen sites nationwide.