Project ECHO: Bringing Specialists' Expertise to Underserved Rural Areas

Chapter 9

In this chapter of To Improve Health and Health Care, Volume XV, Sara Solovitch, a California-based journalist and freelance writer, tells the story of an innovative way of providing medical expertise in the treatment of complex illnesses suffered by people living in rural areas.

Developed by Sanjeev Arora, a physician affiliated with the University of New Mexico School of Medicine and a leading expert on liver diseases, Project ECHO enables primary care physicians and nurses in rural New Mexico to consult, via video conference, with specialists at the University of New Mexico Medical School about how best to treat their patients with hepatitis C. The project, whose scope has expanded to other diseases and other states, has been widely hailed as a breakthrough. Most recently, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation singled out Project ECHO for a Health Care Innovation Award, which comes with $8.5 million to enable further expansion of the project.