Project ECHO was launched in 2003 as a healthcare initiative before expanding into other domains. It grew out of one doctor’s vision. Sanjeev Arora, M.D., a liver disease specialist at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center in Albuquerque, was frustrated that he could serve only a fraction of the hepatitis C patients in the state. He wanted to serve as many patients with hepatitis C as possible, so he created a free, educational model and mentored community providers across New Mexico in how to treat the condition.
ECHO is all teach, all learn: interactive, co-management of cases, peer-to-peer learning, collaborative problem solving. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that hepatitis C care provided by Project ECHO trained community providers was as good as care provided by specialists at a university.
The ECHO model is not traditional “telemedicine” where the specialist assumes care of the patient, but is instead telementoring, a guided practice model where the participating clinician retains responsibility for managing the patient.