Among the challenges physicians and other providers in underserved communities face in caring for cancer patients and survivors is the lack of nearby specialty care. To solve this problem, specialists at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center use an innovative telementoring program to discuss cases with community providers.
The program is part of Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes), a telementoring program established in 2003 by Sanjeev Arora, M.D., of the University of New Mexico to connect institutional specialists with community physicians treating hepatitis C patients in rural New Mexico. Since then, Project ECHO has expanded to more than 120 “hubs” (academic medical centers that host programs) and nine “superhubs” (hubs that provide training and support to new hubs) in 23 countries to treat more than 60 diseases.
In ECHO videoconferences, clinicians can discuss cases and consult specialists. All cases discussed in the videoconferences are de-identified in compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. The specialists also present information on a relevant topic and invite discussion.
An ECHO hub since 2014, MD Anderson hosts domestic programs that address cancer survivorship, cervical cancer prevention, and tobacco education and cessation. New programs will be added in the coming months.
MD Anderson also collaborates with centers in Africa and Latin America to conduct ECHO videoconferences between those centers’ specialists and other physicians in their regions. The topics include pathology, pharmacology, palliative care, and treatment of gynecological, breast, hematological, and head and neck cancers.
In addition, in February 2017, MD Anderson became Project ECHO’s first oncology superhub. Providing ECHO training and support at MD Anderson will enable further collaboration among academic medical centers to improve cancer treatment for underserved communities worldwide.
To learn more about MD Anderson’s ECHO programs, visit www.mdanderson.org/ProjectECHO.
OncoLog, January 2018, Volume 63, Issue 1