Project Echo – Telementoring for Complex Health Conditions

Project echo is a type of telementoring that connects primary-care practitioners with multi-disciplinary teams. This method is designed to improve the care for patients with complex health 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 the hepatitis C patients from populations that are underserved and prisons. Since then, the ECHO model has been replicated in a variety of clinical areas including asthma, diabetes and chronic pain. The ECHO model is supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality as well as the GE Foundation, and the Leona M. and Harry B Helmsley Charitable Trust.

During ECHO sessions participants present cases that have been identified and engage in group discussions with the experts in the field using videoconferencing technology. In this «all teach all learn» format, participants are able to share their expertise and experience with other experts to help them answer questions, give feedback, and make clinical recommendations.

The ECHO model also permits remote monitoring of patient outcomes. Specialists from the University of New Mexico monitor the plans of each community-based provider’s treatment to ensure their patients receive top-quality care. If a patient fails to follow the prescribed treatment the doctors can suggest mid-course corrections. This helps to avoid treatment failure and increases the likelihood of a positive outcome. Furthermore, specialists can use the ECHO system to track patient data and spot gaps in treatment. The information is then shared with local healthcare professionals to enable them to better serve their patients.

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