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Missouri Rural Health Care Summit proceedings show innovation for rural healthcare


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The proceedings from a collaborative conference show a focus on innovation as a way to improve and continue rural health care. The conference, which took place on Sept.19, had a diverse crowd of service providers from health care, insurance, and medical professional associations.

The three-part review presents an optimistic multi-faceted outlook of services and innovations to improve quality and efficiency in hospitals, private practices, and beyond.

“[T]he health care industry is undergoing a significant transformation that is creating unprecedented opportunities for rural communities to develop health care systems that meet their local needs,” reads the report. “Rural health care stakeholders who want to retain and maximize value in this new landscape must understand — and plan for — how to make the transition to a sustainable, high-performing rural health delivery system that is designed to improve the community’s health.”

One program highlighted at the summit and in the report is Project ECHO, a new innovation that uses teleconferences to bring doctors to patients, especially those in rural areas that may not have access to specialists.

“Project ECHO uses videoconferencing technology to bring together a multidisciplinary team of specialists and primary care providers to collaborate in a case-based learning environment to develop advanced clinical skills and best practices in rural settings. Each ECHO clinic includes of case presentations by the primary care providers and responses from the specialist team and other primary care providers, and an educational presentation discussing the latest evidence-based case studies. Participating primary care providers receive no-cost continuing medical education credits for their ECHO clinic time.”

The project was lauded by both the Farm Bureau and the Missouri Hospital Association as an important innovation to rural health care. Dr. Karen Edison, M.D., from the MU Center for Health Policy spoke to the program at the summit.

“Show Me ECHO is going to change rural health care in Missouri,” said Dr. Edison on the project.

The summit’s keynote was Eric Shall, a CPA and MBA, who spoke regarding the new opportunities. Nurses; doctors; health care administrators; insurance providers; and legislators, including Rep. Diane Franklin, Sen. Bob Dixon, Rep. Diana Kirkton, and Rep. Kathy Swan; also spoke to current concerns and possible solutions.

“If we understand where the health care industry is going, we will understand that rural communities have very unique value in this new world,” said Shell.

The report concludes with legislative highlights, proving health care to be a continuing priority for lawmakers.

“We know the decline is coming, but the question is when and where the impacts will be felt most?” asked Rep. Franklin.