Project ECHO Comes to NEOMED

In the early 2000s, New Mexico was in the midst of a Hepatitis C outbreak. Compounding the problem, 32 of 33 counties in the state were classified as underserved: There was a lack of specialists in the state, and many of those affected by the outbreak did not have the access to the medical care that was so sorely needed.

Sanjeev Arora, M.D. (pictured above addressing the audience at an ECHO event at NEOMED), knew that a creative solution was needed to help thousands more people receive care. Soon after, Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) was born.

The ECHO Model uses videoconferencing so that specialists can provide continuing medical education to clinicians at academic medical centers and universities, no matter what the geographic location. This helps assorted medical professionals gain the knowledge and skills of specialists, with the goal of providing additional, much-needed care to underserved areas. Northeast Ohio Medical University is teaming up with Dr. Arora and his team from the University of New Mexico to provide instruction in specialized care. NEOMED’s Department of Psychiatry has created four new ECHO programs to address specific needs:

  • Integrated Care at NEOMED—a forum to build expertise and enhance care delivery for children and young adults with complex, co-occurring psychiatric and physical conditions, through integrated, team-based care.
  • SZconsultant—a telecommunity for medical professionals to solve problems for people affected by schizophrenia-spectrum disorders run by NEOMED’s Best Practices in Schizophrenia Treatment (BeST) Center.
  • First Episode Psychosis—a telecommunity for Ohio’s Coordinated Specialty Care for First Episode Psychosis team members run by NEOMED’s Best Practices in Schizophrenia Treatment (BeST) Center.
  • Ohio Opiate—two programs focused on Medication-Assisted Treatment for opiate addiction, offered in partnership with the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services’ Ohio 21st Century Cures Act.

Not only does the ECHO model allow health professionals to gain expertise. It does so while creating an emotional connection. ECHO sessions often use a live patient as a case study, which creates a memorable situation where true learning can begin to develop--more so than in traditional knowledge-based case studies, says Dr. Arora. 

Visit the NEOMED website for details on the ECHO program and how to participate.

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