N.M. Rural Healthcare Program Could Go National

Nov 30, 2016

The U.S. Senate passed a bill Tuesday to give rural patients better access to high-quality medical care using a program developed at UNM.

Here’s the conundrum: rural patients often have some of the most serious medical needs, but the experts qualified to treat them tend to be far away in city hospitals.

To solve that problem, the University of New Mexico’s Project ECHO uses videoconferencing programs to hold consultations and training sessions between rural doctors and experts in urban areas.

“The real issue for the country is that medical knowledge is exploding, and patients living in rural areas and urban underserved areas are unable to avail themselves of this knowledge because the specialists and experts who have it don’t live there,” said Project ECHO Director Dr. Sanjeev Arora.

The ECHO Act would expand the UNM program's model nationally. It passed the Senate unanimously this week, in a rare show of bipartisanship, and still needs approval from the House.