Project ECHO – Expanding and Achieving Financial Sustainability of ECHO PSYCH in New York State
Special Projects Fund
January 11, 2017
Project ECHO®, which originated at the University of New Mexico, is an innovative model of health care education and delivery that can significantly improve the treatment of chronic and complex diseases for rural and underserved populations.
Unlike the typical telemedicine service model, the Project ECHO model uses Web-based videoconferencing to create virtual grand rounds, which dramatically increase access to specialty treatment in rural and underserved areas by providing front-line physicians with the knowledge and support they need to manage patients with complex conditions. It does this by engaging primary care physicians at rural sites in a continuous learning system and virtually partnering them with an interdisciplinary team of specialist mentors (e.g., psychiatry, nursing, social work, psychology, pharmacy) at an academic medical center. In 2014, NYSHealth awarded a grant to University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) to launch ECHO GEMH, the first Project ECHO clinic in New York State. ECHO GEMH equipped primary care providers in rural counties across New York State with the skills to provide geriatric mental health services in underserved communities. In 2017, NYSHealth awarded a grant to URMC to support the continuation and expansion of Project ECHO.
Under this grant, URMC built upon the success of the 2014 grant by expanding Project ECHO to general psychiatry (ECHO PSYCH) for one year and establishing a sustainable reimbursement mechanism for this model. This project built the capacity of primary care providers to better manage the mental health needs of their patients across the entire adult lifespan. Specifically, URMC worked with current participating primary care practice sites, as well as engaged new sites across additional rural counties. URMC also integrated sustainable funding models for ECHO PSYCH as part of value-based payment arrangements and launched a subscription payment model for primary care providers interested in participating in ECHO PSYCH. In addition, URMC integrated ECHO PSYCH into the State’s Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment program to further the sustainability of ECHO.