Project Echo – Telementoring for Complex Health Conditions

Project echo is a form of telementoring that links primary-care clinicians with multi-disciplinary teams. This approach is intended to improve the care of patients with complicated conditions especially in rural areas and those who are underserved.

The ECHO model was developed by the University of New Mexico in 2003 with a focus on treating hepatitis C patients from populations that are underserved and prisons. The ECHO model has since been replicated around the world in numerous areas of clinical practice such as diabetes, asthma, chronic pain, and Rheumatology. The ECHO model is backed by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the GE Foundation, and the Leona M. and Harry B Helmsley Charitable Trust.

During ECHO sessions participants present de-identified case studies and participate in group discussions with the experts in the field via videoconferencing. In this “all-teach and all-learn” format, experts share their knowledge and experience to answer questions, provide feedback, and make recommendations.

The ECHO model allows remote monitoring of patient outcomes. Specialists at the University of New Mexico follow each community provider’s treatment plans to ensure that their patients receive the highest quality of care. They may make adjustments at mid-course if the patient is not adhering to the prescribed treatment. This can help prevent treatment failure and enhances the chance of having a positive outcome. Moreover, specialists can use the ECHO system to track patient data and discover gaps in care. This information is passed on to local clinicians to assist them in better serving their patients.

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