Project echo is a telementoring program that connects primary care doctors with multidisciplinary teams of specialists. This method is designed to enhance care for patients suffering from complex health conditions, especially 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 it was developed the ECHO model has been replicated across a variety of clinical areas including asthma, diabetes and chronic pain. The ECHO model has been funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as well as the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the GE Foundation and the Leona M. and Harry B Helmsley Charitable Trust.

During ECHO sessions participants present unidentified case studies and take part in a group discussion with content experts via videoconferencing. In this “all teach, all learn” format, participants share their expertise and knowledge with other experts to help them answer questions, give feedback, and offer clinical recommendations.

The ECHO model also allows remote monitoring of patient outcomes. Specialists from the University of New Mexico follow each community provider’s treatment plans to ensure that their patients receive high-quality care. Specialists are able to make mid-course adjustments when patients are not adhering to the prescribed therapy. This can prevent treatment failure and increases the likelihood of a successful outcome. Moreover, specialists can use the ECHO system to track their data and find gaps in care. This information is passed on to local clinicians to enable them to better serve their patients.

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