Project Echo – Telementoring for Complex Health Conditions

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Project echo is a model of telementoring, which connects primary care practitioners with multi-disciplinary teams. This method is designed to improve the treatment of patients with complicated conditions, particularly in rural areas that are not well-served.

The ECHO model, developed in 2003 by the University of New Mexico, focuses on treating the hepatitis C in prisons and communities that are not served. Since since then the ECHO model has been replicated in a variety of clinical areas, including asthma, chronic pain and diabetes. The ECHO model has been backed by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as well as the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and the GE Foundation and the Leona M. and Harry B Helmsley Charitable Trust.

During ECHO sessions participants present case studies that have been identified and participate in group discussions with experts on content via videoconferencing. In this “all teach, all learn” format, participants are able to share their expertise and experience with others to help answer questions, give feedback and make clinical recommendations.

The ECHO model also allows for remote monitoring of the patient’s outcomes. Specialists at the University of New Mexico follow the treatment plans of each community provider to ensure that their patients receive the highest quality of care. If a patient fails to adhere to the prescribed treatment experts can suggest mid-course corrections. This can help avoid treatment failure and increases the chance of a positive outcome. Specialists can also use the ECHO system for tracking data and identifying any gaps in care. This information is shared with local healthcare professionals so that they can better serve their patients.