Project Echo – Telementoring for Complex Health Conditions

Project echo is a method of telementoring, which connects primary care clinicians with multi-disciplinary teams. This approach is designed to improve care for patients suffering from complex health issues, particularly in communities that are rural and 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 since then the ECHO model has been replicated in many 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 de-identified case studies and participate in group discussions with experts in the field via videoconferencing. In this “all-teach and learn” format, the experts share their information and experience to address questions, provide feedback, and provide recommendations.

The ECHO model allows remote monitoring of the patient’s outcomes. Specialists from the University of New Mexico follow each community provider’s treatment plans to ensure that their patients are receiving top-quality treatment. If a patient does not adhere to their prescribed therapy the doctors can suggest mid-course corrections. This can stop treatment failure and increases the likelihood of an outcome that is positive. Specialists can also utilize the ECHO system for tracking data and identifying areas of care that are not being met. This information is then given to local physicians to assist them in better serving their patients.

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