Project ECHO arms caregivers at the frontlines with the knowledge they need to treat underserved populations.
When Dr. Sanjeev Arora was treating Hepatitis C patients in New Mexico a little over a decade ago, he was frustrated that thousands of people suffering from the liver disease could not get proper treatment because of the lack of specialists. So Arora, who worked in one of only two clinics in the entire state that treated hepatitis C, took action.
He launched Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) in 2004 to bring the best–in–class treatment available in medical schools and research centers to underserved patients who live far away from these centers of excellence.
“If you’re close to the place where [medical] knowledge is innovating and you’re rich and you can see the top specialist in the world, you can get that excellent treatment,” says Arora in a video interview during the recent GE Developing Health Summit, which brought together the GE Foundation’s partners in global health. “But if you’re poor and living in an urban underserved area or a rural area, there is no way you can access that same level of care because there is a transmission issue.”
Project ECHO bridges that healthcare gap through tele-mentoring, training nurses, family doctors practicing in rural areas to diagnose and treat Hepatitis C and a host of other diseases that require specialist care that’s often only available in far-away treatment centers.
“You can move the knowledge. And when you do that dramatic improvements happen in access to care, patient satisfaction and quality of care happen all at the same time,” Arora says in the interview:
(Top GIF: Video courtesy of Project Echo)