Project ECHO: a model for complex, chronic care in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States
The Pacific Northwest of the US is a large, sparsely populated region. A telehealth programme called Project ECHO (Extension for Community Health Outcomes) was tested in this region in 2009. Weekly videoconferences were held in the areas of hepatitis C, chronic pain, integrated addictions and psychiatry, and HIV/AIDS. Rural clinicians presented cases to a panel of experts at an academic medical centre and received management advice and access to best practices. During the trial, more than 900 clinicians participated, and more than 700 patient cases were presented. At the end of June 2012, a total of 23 videoconference clinics for hepatitis C had been held, 16 clinics in addiction and psychiatry, 97 in chronic pain and 13 in HIV/AIDS. The Project ECHO model improves access to health care. It may provide a way to bring specialist care to rural areas in developing countries.