About Project ECHO
Project ECHO links expert specialist teams at an academic hub with primary care clinicians in local communities. Primary care clinicians, the spokes in our model, become part of a learning community, where they receive mentoring and feedback from specialists. Together, they manage patient cases so that patients get the care they need. Although the ECHO model makes use of telecommunications technology, it is different from telemedicine.
Overview of Project ECHO
Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) is a collaborative model of medical education and care management that empowers clinicians everywhere to provide better care to more people, right where they live. The ECHO model™ does not actually “provide” care to patients. Instead, it dramatically increases access to specialty treatment in rural and underserved areas by providing front-line clinicians with the knowledge and support they need to manage patients with complex conditions such as: hepatitis C, HIV, tuberculosis, chronic pain, endocrinology, behavioral health disorders, and many others. It does this by engaging clinicians in a continuous learning system and partnering them with specialist mentors at an academic medical center or hub. As the ECHO model expands, it is helping to address some of the healthcare system’s most intractable problems, including inadequate or disparities in access to care, rising costs, systemic inefficiencies, and unequal or slow diffusion of best practices. Across the United States and globally, policymakers are recognizing the potential of ECHO to exponentially expand workforce capacity to treat more patients sooner, using existing resources. At a time when the health care system is under mounting pressure to do more without spending more, this is critical.
The ECHO Model & teleECHO Clinics
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 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.
The clinics are supported by basic, widely available teleconferencing technology. During teleECHO clinics, primary care clinicians from multiple sites present patient cases to the specialist teams and to each other, discuss new developments relating to their patients, and determine treatment.
Specialists serve as mentors and colleagues, sharing their medical knowledge and expertise with primary care clinicians. Essentially, ECHO® creates ongoing learning communities where primary care clinicians receive support and develop the skills they need to treat a particular condition, such as hepatitis C or chronic pain. As a result, they can provide comprehensive, best-practice care to patients with complex health conditions, right where they live.
People need access to specialty care for their complex health conditions.
There aren't enough specialists to treat everyone who needs care, especially in rural and underserved communities.
ECHO trains primary care clinicians to provide specialty care services. This means more people can get the care they need.
Patients get the right care, in the right place, at the right time. This improves outcomes and reduces costs.