Project echo is a model of telementoring that connects primary care doctors with multidisciplinary teams of specialists. This approach is intended to improve the care of patients with complex conditions, particularly in areas that are rural and unserved.

The ECHO model was developed by the University of New Mexico in 2003, with a focus on treating hepatitis C patients in underserved populations and prisons. Since it was developed, the ECHO model has been replicated in numerous 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.

In ECHO sessions participants present unidentified case studies and participate in group discussions with experts on content via videoconferencing. In this « all teach, all learn » format, providers share their expertise and knowledge with other participants to answer questions, provide feedback and make clinical recommendations.

The ECHO model also allows for remote monitoring of the patient’s outcomes. Specialists from the University of New Mexico monitor the plans of each community provider’s treatment to ensure that their patients receive high-quality care. If a patient is unable to follow the prescribed treatment, the specialists can recommend mid-course corrections. This can stop treatment failure and increases the chance of a positive outcome. Additionally, specialists can utilize the ECHO system to monitor data and identify gaps in care. This information is transferred to local doctors to enable them to better serve their patients.

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