ECHO Research Assistant Selected to Present to Missouri Lawmakers

Shyu

Each year, the University of Missouri System undergoes a rigorous selection process to identify exceptional student researchers to present their projects to state lawmakers in Jefferson City. Rebecca Shyu, a University of Missouri—Columbia junior and undergraduate research assistant with the Show-Me ECHO program, was selected to present her work on rural health and tele-education in Missouri.

“Currently, 37% of Missourians live in rural areas where there is a shortage of providers,” Shyu said in her presentation. “This means that access to health care is extremely difficult for rural communities, which leads to worse health outcomes.”

Through her team’s research question, Shyu sought to explore the potential impact of Show-Me ECHO as a tool to educate providers about chronic conditions. The goal was to see if there was a link between providers’ participation in Show-Me ECHO sessions on chronic conditions and rural patients’ ability to access health care services for these conditions.

To test their hypothesis, the researchers compiled a list of 11 Show-Me ECHO programs related to chronic conditions. Next, 507 providers were identified across the state and geospatial mapping was used to identify the quickest routes to University of Missouri Health Care, a centrally located academic medical center. The average travel time was found to be two hours for a one-way trip.

“Our preliminary conclusions show that the Show-Me ECHO program is increasingly impacting Missourians,” Shyu said. “More providers are showing up and participating each year, leading to better quality health care in rural areas. Time, money and lives, as a result, are being saved.”

As Shyu continues her research with Show-Me ECHO, her team hopes to study specific ECHO categories to measure the program’s impact on various specialties. Health outcomes data will also be collected and a prediction algorithm will be developed to more fully measure Show-Me ECHO’s impact.

Shyu was also recently named a Barry Goldwater Scholarship Foundation 2021 Scholar. She studies biomedical informatics and health policy with the University School of Medicine’s Department of Health Management and Informatics and College of Engineering. She researches policy related to substance abuse using telemedicine with colleagues at Harvard Medical School. Her MU mentors include telehealth evaluation expert Mirna Becevic, PhD.

To learn more about Missouri Telehealth Network’s Show-Me ECHO program and to register to attend a session, visit https://showmeecho.org/.