The Robert Wood Johnson and GE foundations in partnership with the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center have announced the launch of a national institute focused on replicating Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) at sites around the country.
Launched in 2003 to boost access to hepatitis C treatments, Project ECHO has since been expanded to include sites outside New Mexico, where it was piloted, and now addresses other common, chronic, and complex diseases. The ECHO model uses a secure Internet-based audio-visual network to connect primary care providers with medical specialists to improve access to care for patients, while training doctors, nurses, physician's assistants, and other clinicians in rural and underserved areas to work collaboratively to manage patients' diseases and conditions, expanding community health systems' capacity to deliver high-quality care to those most in need.
The newly launched ECHO Institute is designed to meet the growing demand for replication of the ECHO model, ensure the model's integrity, and connect ECHO programs nationally and globally so they can mine data to better identify and map disease patterns and establish best practices.
"Through our work to expand access to primary care, we fully understand the growing need to provide mental health treatment in community health centers," said GE Foundation president and board chair Bob Corcoran. "This approach with Project ECHO will bring mental health care to patients in their home communities with local clinicians. We think this will not only improve access to mental health care, but ultimately improve overall well-being and quality of life for these patients and their families."