teleECHO clinics are free interactive videoconferencing sessions between specialists and primary care providers.
The ECHO model is not “traditional telemedicine” in which the specialist assumes care of the patient, but instead a guided practice model in which the primary care provider retains responsibility for managing the patient. During a teleECHO™ clinic, primary care providers in multiple locations present patient cases to a multidisciplinary team of specialists using video technology to determine treatment. These case-based discussions are supplemented with short, didactic presentations to improve content knowledge and share evidence-based best practices.
These specialists serve as mentors, training community providers to provide care in clinical areas that were previously outside their expertise. Over time, the primary care providers operate with increased independence as their skills and self-efficacy grow. A teleECHO clinic is, essentially, a virtual grand rounds. Primary care providers from multiple locations connect at regularly scheduled times with a team of specialists using low cost, multi-point videoconferencing.
The technology can be as simple as an individual using a laptop, a hand-held mobile device, a small room set-up for 1-2 people or a videoconferencing room to allow the participation of groups. Like Project ECHO in New Mexico, we utilize a cloud-based, system called Zoom (http://zoom.us). This system has a number of benefits, including the ability to run on lower-speed Internet connections. Zoom works well on mobile devices such as iPhones, iPads and Androids, requires no appliances and has web-conferencing features like chat and sharing.