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June 7, 2018

Meet Population Health Scholar–Kathy MacLaughlin, M.D.

By Advancing the Science contributor

Kathy L. MacLaughlin, M.D., is a family medicine physician, and a Population Health Scholar in the Mayo Clinic Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery.

The research of Kathy L. MacLaughlin, M.D., focuses on developing and implementing a clinical decision support system to improve clinician compliance with evidence-based guidelines for cervical cancer screening and test result management.

Dr. MacLaughlin grew up in Rochester, Minnesota, and graduated from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. She received her medical degree from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis in 1995 and completed her family medicine residency training at the university-affiliated Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital.

In 2003, Dr. MacLaughlin joined Mayo Clinic's Department of Family Medicine in Rochester. Her clinical practice includes pediatrics through geriatrics, but her research passion is in women's health.

What moment or experience in your life influenced your decision to be a clinician?

As a former teen volunteer at Mayo Clinic years ago, I found myself both curious about medicine and comfortable in the environment. In college, I majored in philosophy but also completed pre-med courses and realized that family medicine would allow me to combine science and humanities interests to accompany patients on their lifelong health journeys.

What motivated you to become a Population Health Science Scholar?

Departmental encouragement and support along with mentorship from several colleagues has allowed me to explore research relevant to primary care practice and population health. I am energized by and enjoy the research process: reviewing and becoming conversant in a body of literature, working with a team to study a clinical question and putting it all together in a manuscript to share with the research and practice communities.

What is your focus as a scholar within the Mayo Clinic Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery?

My work focuses on women's health topics, including improving guideline-consistent screening and results management across the Mayo Clinic Health System population. Increasing the use and completion of the HPV vaccine series for both sexes is also a priority for me, given the significant disease and cost consequences of not promoting this preventive intervention.

My research evaluates interventions that leverage automated systems in patient care to improve appropriate use of cancer screening and vaccination and foster collaborations to expand the cervical cancer prevention clinical decision support strategy to other cancers with effective prevention strategies and screening tools.

How will your research improve patient care or impact public health?

Using a population health approach, my goal is to increase women's health screening rates and ensure appropriate follow-up management of abnormal results. I also aim to increase HPV vaccine rates for eligible patients, using automated systems to support interventions and improvement.

Why did you choose Mayo Clinic to pursue your career?

Mainly for the opportunity to practice primary care in an academic setting, supported by world-class specialty clinicians — and having family nearby is a plus.

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Dr. MacLaughlin's selection as a scholar, and that of her fellow cohort members, was announced in late 2017. They begin their mentored research training program in July.

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Tags: Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery, Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery, education, People, population health, Population Health Scholar

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