Project ECHO: A Revolution in Medical Education and Care Delivery

Time—you can hear it ticking away.  The inevitable pressures on primary care providers reduce the amount of time that practitioners have for delivering thoughtful, compassionate, evidence-based patient care. Meanwhile, patient populations are becoming increasingly complex to manage. In this environment, where can primary care providers turn to be able to provide the needed specialty care directly to patients in their own practices?

We think we have found a model that can help.  By connecting with a subspecialty team of experts and building a community of practice via telemedicine, primary care providers can increase knowledge, mastery that will inform their practice and benefit their patients.

Project ECHO® (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) developed at the University of New Mexico, is a lifelong learning and guided practice model that revolutionizes medical education and exponentially increases workforce capacity to provide best-practice specialty care and reduce health disparities. The heart of the ECHO model™ is its hub-and-spoke knowledge-sharing networks, led by expert teams who use multi-point videoconferencing to conduct virtual clinics with community providers. In this way, primary care doctors, nurses, and other clinicians learn to provide excellent specialty care to patients in their own communities.

UMass is joining ECHO partners across the country in  launching our first ever Project ECHO® clinics in a few selected specialties.  Each hub and spoke clinic group will meet regularly online.  Each session will include a short didactic lecture on a specific topic relevant to primary care, and the remaining time will be spent discussing de-identified cases that participants submit in advance. These real-life cases will serve as the focus for in-depth discussions relevant to caring for this specific population of patients.  There is no cost to participate.  Sessions will be led by UMass experts, faculty and associates.

This effort is being led by Judy Hsu, DO,  Assistant Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health, who practices at the UMass Barre Family Health Center, and Daniel Mullin, PsyD, MPH, Associate Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health who is also the Director of the UMASS Medical School, Center for Integrated Primary Care.

TED Talk by founder of Project ECHO, Dr. Sanjeev Arora