New York Academy of Medicine
Special Projects Fund
May 11, 2017
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Co-funded by NYSHealth and the GE Foundation, the New York Academy of Medicine developed this toolkit and resource guide for Project ECHO users working across multiple health conditions and settings.
Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes), 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.
Evaluations of the impact of the Project ECHO model have not kept pace with the growth of new and unique types of clinics. While there is some evidence that the model can successfully improve care across diseases and specialties, more evidence is needed to understand how model adaptations impact clinician effectiveness, as well as patient health, health care utilization, and health care costs. Understanding the impact of Project ECHO clinics on participants, the health of their patients, and the broader health care environment is critically important when making the business, economic, or social case for the program. Moreover, evaluation findings can be used to engage stakeholders, adapt program activities, and ensure that scarce resources are invested efficiently and effectively.
The purpose of this guide is to support leaders of Project ECHO programs as they conduct basic program evaluations. With a particular focus on supporting groups with relatively limited evaluation resources, this resource describes evaluation methods that can be used to examine the implementation, outcomes, and value of Project ECHO clinics that aim to address a wide range of challenges related to health care access, delivery, treatment, and prevention, particularly in underserved communities. It was developed to provide Project ECHO implementers with practical information on evaluation techniques and best practices that can guide them in designing and carrying out their own evaluation, even when resources are limited.