Project ECHO started as a way to meet local healthcare needs. Sanjeev Arora, M.D., a liver disease doctor in Albuquerque, was frustrated that thousands of New Mexicans with hepatitis C could not get the treatment they needed because there were no specialists where they lived. The clinic where he worked was one of only two in the entire state that treated hepatitis C.
Dr. Arora was determined that all patients in need of treatment should get it. He created Project ECHO so that primary care clinicians could treat hepatitis C in their own communities.
Launched in 2003, the ECHO model™ makes specialized medical knowledge accessible wherever it is needed to save and improve people’s lives. By putting local clinicians together with specialist teams at academic medical centers in weekly virtual clinics or teleECHO™ clinics, Project ECHO shares knowledge and expands treatment capacity. The result: better care for more people.
Treatment for hepatitis C is now available at centers of excellence across New Mexico, and more than 3,000 doctors, nurses and community health workers provide treatment to more than 6,000 patients enrolled in Project ECHO’s comprehensive disease management programs for myriad conditions. A 2011 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that the quality of hepatitis C care provided by Project ECHO-trained clinicians was equal to that of care provided by university-based specialists.
What’s more, Project ECHO has expanded—across diseases and specialties, across urban and rural locales, across different types of delivery services, and even across the globe. Today, Project ECHO operates 39 hubs for nearly 30 diseases and conditions in 22 states and five countries outside the U.S., including sites within the Department of Defense healthcare systems.