House bill urges use of Project ECHO model

Laptop computer sitting on table

A bill recommending New Mexico's Project ECHO as a national telehealth model that originated in the U.S. Senate last month now also has been introduced in the House.

Reps. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) and Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) introduced the Expanding Capacity for Health Outcomes (ECHO) Act in the House Tuesday, according to an announcement.

The bill calls for the Government Accountability Office and the Department of Health and Human Services, in collaboration with the Health Resources and Services Administration, to consider the benefits of Project Echo (Extension for Community Health Outcomes) for use in local health systems nationwide.

Project ECHO originated at the University of New Mexico in 2003 as a way for specialists to support rural doctors and increase access to specialty care. It's been used to provide remote consultations and training in various subspecialties through projects such as the Department of Veterans Affairs' Specialty Care Access Network--Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (SCAN-ECHO) and the UC Davis ECHO Pain Management program.

Barbara McAneny, immediate past chair of the American Medical Association, says in the announcement that Project ECHO has the potential to increase access to specialists, reduce chronic disease and cut costs with less travel and ER visits. It also can boost collaboration rather than competition for patients among academic medical centers and local doctors, she points out.

To learn more:
- here's the announcement