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Rural Health Information Hub

Using Project ECHO to Train Healthcare Workforce

Project ECHO is an evidence-based telehealth program based in New Mexico that offers critical training and education opportunities to rural providers across the United States. Project ECHO's network enables providers from university medical systems and specialty care institutions to share information with the rural healthcare workforce. During TeleECHO clinics, rural providers use videoconferencing technology to engage in case-based learning, consult with specialists, learn from fellow rural programs, and gain the necessary skills to meet the evolving needs of their communities. For example, Integrated Addictions and Psychiatry TeleECHO Clinics have provided physicians with the hours of training needed to qualify for prescribing buprenorphine under the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. The following projects also involve Project ECHO to train the rural workforce:

  • The New Mexico Prison Peer Education Project (PEP) uses telehealth technology to provide monthly continuing education sessions to peer educators at nine New Mexico prisons. PEP training allows inmates to educate peers about the prevention of infectious disease and imparts valuable professional skills that prepare participants for the workforce after they are released.
  • The School-based Consultations for Rural Pediatric Telehealth (SCRiPT) Network uses Project ECHO to provide training to staff at rural school-based health centers (SBHCs) in rural locations across the country. SBHC providers submit cases to the ECHO team, which includes a psychiatrist, psychologist, pediatrician, cardiologist, endocrinologist, and pulmonologist. During teleECHO clinic sessions with SBHC staff, ECHO experts review the case, provide guidance, and offer suggestions via video or teleconference.
  • The University of Kansas Medical Center is using Project ECHO as part of an initiative to address obesity and behavioral health concerns among children living in rural Kansas. The ECHO team works with rural providers and SBHC staff to provide teleECHO clinics on behavioral disorders, developmental concerns, learning conditions, and pediatric obesity. The ECHO approach is unique in bringing together participants across primary care, education, community mental health centers, and other child-serving systems. ECHO telementoring sessions are helping to build the capacity of SBHC staff to triage cases and effectively manage the health of students and for specialist teams to understand the resources available to families.
  • The Mountain West AIDS Education and Training Center uses Project ECHO to train rural providers in HIV patient care. Providers meet weekly with HIV specialists via interactive videoconferencing to discuss cases and receive guidance on treatment protocols.

Implementation Considerations

Project ECHO provides resources to support communities seeking to implement their own ECHO models. Rural communities may also benefit from reviewing successful Medicaid financing models and evaluation considerations.

Additional implementation considerations including licensing and reimbursement are discussed in Module 4: Implementation and Module 6: Funding & Sustainability.

Resources to Learn More

Case Study: Project ECHO Expands Access to Specialty Care for Rural Patients
Describes how specialty providers in New Mexico applied the Project ECHO model to increase capacity of rural providers and access to care for patients with complex conditions through telemedicine, case-based learning, and disease management.
Author(s): Hostetter, M.
Organization(s): The Commonwealth Fund
Date: 12/2009

Project ECHO
Provides information about the development of Project ECHO, and its impact on health and education. Offers data supporting the use of Project ECHO and a portal highlighting the various training programs, projects, and collaborations.
Organization(s): University of New Mexico School of Medicine

Using Project ECHO and Patient Navigation to Improve the Health and Wellness of Cancer Survivors in Rural Communities
Details Project ECHO telementoring and patient navigation practices used to enhance the skills of healthcare providers and increase healthcare capacity when caring for cancer survivors in rural areas. Highlights the achievements of Project ECHO and patient navigation collaborations.
Organization(s): Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)