Project ECHO receives significant financial boost from GE Foundation

Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes), a rural telemedicine project launched by the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center in 2003, just received a significant financial boost from the GE Foundation.

The foundation, on Monday, announced a three-year, $14 million grant aimed at growing the number of federally qualified health centers within the project. Project ECHO's initial intent was to enable primary care providers in rural areas to achieve outcomes for treating hepatitis C that were comparable to those of specialists at the medical center in Albuquerque.

In June 2013, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the GE Foundation provided funding to the initiative to create a national institute to "replicate" Project Echo; the funding enabled Project ECHO to expand into mental health, with eight community health centers adding staff to focus specifically on treating addictions and mental health issues.

And in March 2014, New Mexico included roughly $600,000 for the Department of Health to expand telemedicine services in the state, and a $500,000 increase for Project ECHO.

Additionally, in July 2012, the Department of Veterans Affairs launched a pilot based on Project ECHO called Specialty Care Access Network--Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (SCAN-ECHO). Project ECHO staff were available for consultations as the VA program expanded.

"The ECHO model is transformative," David Barash, chief medical officer of the GE Foundation, said in a statement. "Instead of making patients travel to where care is available, as the current system does, ECHO makes care available to patients where they live. It empowers front-line primary care clinicians and creates new treatment capacity in rural and underserved communities. As a result, patients get the right care, at the right time, in the right place."

To learn more:
- here's the announcement