Weitzman ECHO Celebrates 5th Anniversary
From Weitzman ECHO: With a mission of caring for underserved patients with complex conditions and chronic disease, Community Health Center, Inc. and its Weitzman Institute realizes the importance of connecting primary care providers and expert specialists to improve patient outcomes. Five years ago this week, Weitzman ECHO, a real-time videoconference platform, was launched to link providers and expert faculty, initially with a focus on managing Hepatitis C and HIV. Since then, the program has been expanded to cover conditions such as chronic pain, substance abuse, complex care management, pediatric and adolescent behavioral health, and healthcare for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
In the past five years, Weitzman ECHO has grown into one of the largest ECHO providers in the country, delivering sessions to more than 970 providers in 25 states.
“Weitzman ECHO is the only ECHO program developed by primary care providers for primary care providers, making it uniquely suited to address the needs of front line staff,” said Daren Anderson, MD, director of the Weitzman Institute and vice president and chief quality officer for CHC. “By addressing issues such as chronic pain, we help providers understand treatment options exist beyond prescribing painkillers, often the pathway to heroin and other substances feeding the epidemic of abuse in our country.”
“We are the only community health center hosting ECHO, which gives us the unique ability to understand and address the challenges facing providers and their teams in rural or underserved communities,” said Agi Erickson, project director for Weitzman ECHO. “Our participants routinely report a high level of satisfaction with Weitzman ECHO clinics and measurable improvement in their knowledge of the conditions they study,” said Erickson. “With the technology, which is user friendly and available to anyone, we have made geography irrelevant.”
A primary care provider in Arizona, who participated in two different Weitzman ECHO clinics, said, “The didactic component provides ongoing evidence-based clinical educational material, while the case studies have allowed me to apply that information with specific patients, integrating advice from a brilliant, clinically diverse panel of experts. In a busy clinical practice, Project ECHO has given me time to slow down, ask difficult questions, and get the support I need.”
Weitzman ECHO provides the training and support that allows primary care providers and their teams to care for patients in their own communities, according to Mark Masselli, president and CEO of CHC. “It is a critical tool for breaking barriers to care wherever they exist.”