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LISTEN: Project ECHO Aims To Remake Health Care

Courtesy Project ECHO
Dr. Sanjeev Arora, Dr. Karla Thornton and Paulina Deming, a doctor of Pharmacy, in a teleECHO clinic

In many parts of the world, including rural New Mexico, it's difficult for patients to access specialists in health care. But instead of moving more providers to those areas, what if doctors and other health professionals who already work in those communities could gain the knowledge and expertise they need to help their patients? That's the idea behind Project Extension for Community Healthcare Outcome, or Project ECHO. It launched in 2003 at the University of New Mexico to respond to the growing Hepatitis C crisis around New Mexico. The model now helps doctors treat more than 55 complex medical conditions through academic medical centers and other sites across the United States and around the world.

Weekly teleECHO clinics use video conferencing, case-based learning and mentoring to connect primary care providers and health workers with experts in a variety of fields, creating supportive professional communities where all teach and all learn. Last year, President Barack Obama signed the ECHO Act, which directs the U.S. Health and Human Services Department to study how to integrate the model more widely into health care.

On this episode, we speak with Dr. Sanjeev Arora, founder of Project ECHO, and Dr. Leslie Hayes, a primary care provider in Española who has used ECHO.

We also check with Matthew Reisen, news editor of the Daily Lobo, about issues the student newspaper is following.

Megan has been a journalist for 25 years and worked at business weeklies in San Antonio, New Orleans and Albuquerque. She first came to KUNM as a phone volunteer on the pledge drive in 2005. That led to volunteering on Women’s Focus, Weekend Edition and the Global Music Show. She was then hired as Morning Edition host in 2015, then the All Things Considered host in 2018. Megan was hired as News Director in 2021.