Expanding Capacity Through Lifelong Learning

Sanjeev Arora, MD, created a model of medical education and care delivery that allows providers to bring better care to more people. Through Project ECHO, academic medical centers share specialized knowledge with local clinicians, bringing evidence-based medicine to everyday medical practice and dramatically expanding existing capacity to treat chronic conditions.

1000

plus clinicians in New Mexico trained by ECHO to provide complex care in 2011 alone

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A New Way of Learning and Practicing Medicine

Project ECHO (Extension for Community Health Care Outcomes) is a platform for lifelong learning, knowledge-sharing, and mentoring that all clinicians can engage in. It expands treatment capacity and increases quality by ensuring that every provider is practicing at the top of his or her competence using the latest knowledge and by reinforcing team-based care as efficiently as possible.

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Why is Project ECHO a Game Changer?

Sanjeev Arora, MD, created Project ECHO as a way to break down the knowledge wall and empower primary care providers to treat patients with complex chronic conditions. Project ECHO organizes education, practice, and research through weekly virtual clinics, or grand rounds, using case-based learning. In doing so, it exponentially expands treatment capacity in local communities. A 2011 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that quality of care provided by Project ECHO-trained clinicians was equal to that of care provided by university-based specialists.

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VA Health System Adopts ECHO Model

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced the launch of the first nationwide implementation of Project ECHO in July 2012. John R. Lumpkin, MD, senior vice president and director of the RWJF health care group, called the ECHO model “transformative.”  He said that the VA initiative will help inform the spread of ECHO across the country.

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Innovation Grant Supports ECHO Expansion

Project ECHO received a three-year Health Care Innovation Award grant of nearly $8.5 million from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation.  With this grant, Project ECHO will significantly step up its operations in New Mexico and Washington state, engaging an additional 150 to 300 primary care clinicians to provide care for patients with complex, chronic diseases.

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RWJF Perspective

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Moving Toward A New Norm

RWJF believes that Project ECHO will one day become the new norm for medical practice. With a $5 million grant from RWJF’s Pioneer Portfolio, Project ECHO is spreading—across diseases and specialties, across urban and rural locales, and across different types of delivery and payment systems. ECHO replications are underway in Washington state and Chicago, and numerous federal agencies, health plans, health care systems, and Medicaid programs are in various stages of exploring or implementing Project ECHO. Even other countries are looking into the ECHO model. 

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