Project ECHO® (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) was pioneered at the University of New Mexico. The ECHO model™ breaks down the walls between specialty and primary care. It links expert specialist teams at an academic ‘hub' with primary care clinicians and other healthcare professionals in local communities - the ‘spokes' of the model. Together, they participate in weekly TeleECHO™ clinics, which are like virtual grand rounds, combined with mentoring and patient case presentations.
This lifelong learning and guided practice model is revolutionizing health professional education and increases workforce capacity to provide best-practice specialty care and reduce health disparities. This is an educational approach that differs from telemedicine; TeleECHOTM clinics focus on education and mentoring, rather than direct clinical care.
Through the use of user-friendly technology, Project ECHO® bridges the gap between urban healthcare specialists and providers in rural settings. The approach has resulted in patients receiving the same outcomes in their home communities as those who travel to the regional health centers (Arora et al., NEJM, 2011).Collaboration between specialists and community providers enables patients to receive state-of-the-art healthcare from the professionals they know and trust in their own communities. For providers, co-management advances knowledge and feelings of confidence in managing complex cases, as well as decreases professional isolation. Together, they manage patient cases so that patients get the care they need quickly.
During the TeleECHO™ clinics, healthcare providers present cases using a de-identified Project ECHO format, following a case-based learning model common in training settings and virtual tumor boards. The specialists and community healthcare professionals discuss the de-identified cases and work together to develop recommendations. Depending on community provider input, these cases may be reviewed on a regular basis, in order to discuss the progression of treatment, side effect management, and other concerns and questions. There are many opportunities to learn from presenting one's own cases, as well as hearing common challenges presented by other community providers.
Download our Project ECHO flyer (pdf)