What is Project Echo?
Project ECHO is an innovative health care program developed to treat chronic and complex medical conditions in rural and underserved areas by using teleconferencing technology. By using this interactive technology, Project ECHO bridges the gap between specialty care and providers in community and rural settings.
Project ECHO works by creating an effective and efficient way for community providers to interface with university specialists to receive guidance on treatment strategies and continuing medical education.
Project ECHO also builds the capacity of community providers and empowers them by building their knowledge and skills in specialty areas.
WHAT DOES ‘ECHO’ STAND FOR?
Extension for Community Health Care Outcomes.
CAN PATIENTS MAKE AN APPOINTMENT WITH PROJECT ECHO?
Project ECHO is not for patients. Instead, Project ECHO is a service for providers in community health settings and providers who practice in rural areas. Patients are not actually seen during Project ECHO sessions. Instead, Project ECHO sessions let community providers connect to specialists at Saginaw Valley State University. Saginaw Valley State University specialists can help rural providers co-manage patients with common chronic conditions.
Providers who participate in Project ECHO can present their clinical cases to a specialist or simply join other providers in the spirit of learning or professional development (similar to grand rounds).
Project ECHO partners include: Physicians, Advanced practice clinicians, Clinic nurses, Medical assistants, and Community health workers.
WHAT TYPE OF PATIENT QUESTIONS CAN BE PRESENTED?
Patients of all ages with: substance use disorder, patients with co-occurring disorders, patients with complex, co-morbid health and behavioral health conditions, patients with mental health conditions, patients who are on medication assisted treatment, a patient you suspect may have a substance use disorder or mental illness but is not yet diagnosed, patients who are just beginning treatment and those that have experienced treatment one or more times.
WHAT BENEFITS DO PROVIDERS GET FROM JOINING PROJECT ECHO?
Providers who join Project ECHO benefit from the following things:
Evidence-based, best practice guidance from specialists
Clinical update presentations from faculty
No cost CME, CEU, CE for participation
Live Q & A
Opportunity to translate new knowledge into practice to improve outcomes for chronic conditions commonly seen by primary providers
HOW DOES PROJECT ECHO BENEFIT HEALTH IN RURAL COMMUNITIES?
Even though Project ECHO does not directly serve patients, Project ECHO benefits patients by giving patients improved access to specialty care, Allowing patients to be treated locally by their provider, and reducing travel time to a specialist.
ARE THERE ANY OTHER REASONS WHY I SHOULD JOIN PROJECT ECHO?
Yes. Providers who join Project ECHO have excellent opportunities to participate in research, surveys, and opinion polls.
DOES PROJECT ECHO MONITOR HEALTH OUTCOMES?
Yes. Outcomes research is extremely valuable in order to demonstrate the success of our programs.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO JOIN PROJECT ECHO?
Project ECHO is FREE. There is no cost associated with participating with Project ECHO.
HOW IS THE ECHO MODEL DIFFERENT FROM TRADITIONAL TELEMEDICINE?
The ECHO model is not “traditional telemedicine,” where the specialist assumes care of the patient, but instead is a guided practice model where the primary care provider retains responsibility for managing the patient with the support of a team of specialists. This model creates a collaborative environment for lifelong medical learning and sharing of information among providers on best practice treatment for patients with a specific set of complex chronic diseases and conditions. The ECHO model enables people in medically underserved areas, rural or urban, to receive the care they need where they live, from providers they know, with the support and mentoring of experts in the field.
HOW MUCH TIME CAN I EXPECT PARTICIPATION IN A PROJECT ECHO SESSION?
Project ECHO clinics last 1-1.5 hours and are scheduled early in the morning or at lunch to provide as little disruption as possible to clinic hours. Participating in Project ECHO from the office or health center, utilizing simple technology available on a computer with internet access and a camera, reduces the challenge of participation.
WHAT IS ZOOM?
Zoom is the software that is used by Project ECHO to run its knowledge network meetings.
WHAT IT EQUIPMENT IS REQUIRED?
The technology can be as simple as using a laptop, a handheld mobile device, a small room set up for one or two people, or a videoconferencing room to allow the participation of groups. We utilize a cloud-based system called Zoom (http://zoom.us). This system has a number of benefits, including the ability to run on lower-speed internet connections. Zoom works well on mobile devices such as iPhones, iPads and Androids, requires no appliances, and has web-conferencing features like chat and sharing. NEOMED ECHO will assist each practice with setting up Zoom and preparing for participation in the Project ECHO clinics.