Using ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) to train primary care providers in best practices for complex health conditions

In rural or underserved places across America, millions suffering from serious chronic illness have severely limited access to specialty care. Treatment is often postponed and requires travel to facilities hours from home. At the University of New Mexico, visionary Sanjeev Arora has developed a transformative model that enables a patient's primary doctor to deliver top-quality care for complex conditions in a local setting, restructuring health care delivery. Project ECHO leverages teletechnology to train primary care doctors in rural and underserved areas to treat complex chronic illness. Through virtual grand rounds and other mentoring, providers and their care teams become part of a large knowledge network, experiencing real-time transfer of knowledge and best practices.

ECHO exponentially expands the capacity of the health care work force: Underserved populations receive improved care without increased costs; isolated doctors are connected through meaningful, case-based continuing medical education, improving doctor satisfaction and retention rates in underserved areas; specialists can focus on cases needing their advanced expertise; and an engaged network of health care workers is at the ready to generate and/or receive crucial information in rapid response to a public health emergency.

ECHO's proven model adds new specialties to the roster regularly and, as of early 2011, runs "ECHOs" for 19 areas of specialty care in New Mexico, including diabetes, asthma and chronic pain. Project ECHO expanded to Washington state where, with the University of Washington School of Medicine, it runs hepatitis C ECHOs, and Chicago where it works with health centers to run ECHOs on hypertension management among African-Americans.

In 2007, Project ECHO was voted one of three winners from among more than 300 entries in the global Disruptive Innovations in Health and Health Care competition sponsored by RWJF's Pioneer Portfolio and Ashoka's Changemakers.

Learn about Project ECHO

Grant Details

Amount Awarded $4,996,530.00

Awarded on: 2/12/2009

Time frame: 2/15/2009 - 2/14/2013

Grant Number: 63945


University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center School of Medicine

1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, 87131-0001


Sanjeev Arora
Project Director