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N.M. Rural Healthcare Program Could Go National

Ed Williams
Dr. Sanjeev Arora speaking to an international audience of doctors at an ECHO training at UNM

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 Actwould 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.

Ed Williams came to KUNM in 2014 by way of Carbondale, Colorado, where he worked as a public radio reporter covering environmental issues. Originally from Austin, Texas, Ed has reported on environmental, social justice, immigration and Native American issues in the U.S. and Latin America for the Austin American-Statesman, Z Magazine, NPR’s Latino USA and others. In his spare time, look for Ed riding his mountain bike in the Sandias or sparring on the jiu-jitsu mat.
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