Project ECHO® (Extension of Community Healthcare Outcomes) http://ECHO.unm.edu is a pioneering telementoring programme which was developed in the School of Medicine at the University of New Mexico (UNM). See more on ECHO origins: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lBfyOlL4_s
Project ECHO is a tele-mentoring programme which is designed to facilitate the sharing of specialist knowledge in order to improve the quality of care to patients. It brings GPs, nurses and other healthcare professionals together to participate in guided practice discussions via videoconference with specialist mentors. Participants benefit through case-based learning and the sharing of evidence-based, best practice guidance. Clinicians participating in ECHO sessions acquire new skills and support to treat their patients who otherwise would have to be referred to other specialists. Patients with complex chronic long term conditions including dementia, diabetes and neurological conditions can then get specialist supported care in their local communities.
ECHO uses a hub and spoke model. The hub is normally a multidisciplinary team who sit together at the same location as dedicated IT support, admin support with dedicated IT equipment. Spokes generally join the ECHO sessions remotely. All participants will come together at the outset to agree curriculum topics, dates, times and case presenters.
The ECHO hub and spoke model has been shown to be an effective way of improving access to specialist supported care and improving patient outcomes.
The ECHO model develops knowledge and capacity by:
1. Using video conferencing technology to leverage scarce resources and create knowledge networks
- Allowing participants easier access to training
- Allowing access to training from your place of work at agreed dates & times
- Access to recordings for network participants only
- Dedicated information repository/resource library for your network
2. Improving outcomes by reducing variations in processes of care and sharing best practices
- Sharing annonomised case based discussions
- Teaching on guidelines/good practice
- Improving collaborative decision making
- Support from ECHO dedicated research fellow
- Uses MRC Logic Model
In Northern Ireland, ECHO has now moved in to social care also and other areas such as social prescribing and safeguarding of looked after children.