Frequently Asked Questions

Project ECHO
Frequently Asked Questions

How is the ECHO model different from traditional telemedicine?
What is a Project ECHO clinic?
Why should I or my health center consider participating in a Project ECHO clinic? What are the benefits?
How much time can I expect participation in a Project ECHO clinic to take?
Who should participate in Project ECHO clinics? Providers as individuals? Teams?
How much does it cost to participate in a Project ECHO clinic?
What IT equipment is required to participate in a Project ECHO clinic?
How do I get no-cost CME credits by participating in Project ECHO clinics?
What are the benefits of Project ECHO for patients?
Can participation in Project ECHO help me recruit and retain providers?
Where can I go to learn more about the RWJ Partners Project ECHO program and how to participate?


How is the ECHO model different from traditional telemedicine?
The ECHO model is not “traditional telemedicine,” where the specialist assumes care of the patient, but instead is a guided practice model where the primary care provider retains responsibility for managing the patient with the support of a team of specialists. This model creates a collaborative environment for lifelong medical learning and sharing of information among providers on best practice treatment for patients with a specific set of complex chronic diseases and conditions. The ECHO model enables people in medically underserved areas, rural or urban, to receive the care they need where they live, from providers they know, with the support and mentoring of experts in the field.

What is a Project ECHO clinic?
During a Project ECHO™ clinic, using multi-point video technology, primary care providers in multiple locations present patient cases to a multidisciplinary team of specialists and discuss treatment options and recommendations. These case-based discussions are supplemented with short, expert-led presentations to improve content knowledge and share evidence-based best practices. The specialists serve as mentors, training the primary care providers in clinical areas that expand their expertise and knowledge of treatment and services to support their patients. Over time, the primary care providers operate with increased independence as their skills and self-efficacy grow. Providers also receive free CME credits for each Project ECHO clinic attended.

Why should I or my health center consider participating in a Project ECHO clinic? What are the benefits?

  • Physician Expansion of Expertise: Project ECHO is a unique program that enables providers to expand their level of knowledge for care that typically might require a specialist referral. It promotes providers practicing at the top of their license, treating patients with common complex conditions rather than referring them on. Increased patient retention and satisfaction results from treating patients at the practice within their local community.
  • Physician Development and Retention: Through Project ECHO, primary care providers acquire new skills and competencies. They become part of a community of learners, increasing professional satisfaction and decreasing feelings of professional isolation. For a health center, this means that providers can provide more services to patients, expanding access to care and creating opportunity for increased billing.
  • Continued Learning: Health centers and their providers also enjoy no-cost access to continued learning and specialist consultations during the Project ECHO clinics. This enables providers and health centers to be part of a broader network of collaborative learners. Providers also qualify for CME credits through their participation.
  • Increased Efficiency: Project ECHO has allowed practices to see more patients and to better utilize their staff to serve more patients overall. The model has also demonstrated that it can free up specialist time to see the more complex patients who need their level of expertise, thus improving patient access in both environments.

How much time can I expect participation in a Project ECHO clinic to take?
Project ECHO clinics last one hour and are scheduled early in the morning to provide as little disruption as possible to clinic hours. Participating in Project ECHO from the office or health center, utilizing simple technology available on a computer with internet access and a camera, reduces the challenge of participation.

Who should participate in Project ECHO clinics? Providers as individuals? Teams?
Providers who service the vulnerable populations in the state of New Jersey are the first priority for participation in the Project ECHO clinics. Typically, practice participants include physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners.

How much does it cost to participate in a Project ECHO clinic?
Participation in Project ECHO clinics is free. The only associated costs are those for IT equipment (if needed) and time away from clinic hours. Most clinics already possess the required IT equipment to connect via video (internet and webcam), so no additional costs are incurred. The only associated commitment is attendance at 12 sessions over the course of a year.

What IT equipment is required to participate in a Project ECHO clinic?
The technology can be as simple as using a laptop, a handheld mobile device, a small room set up for one or two people, or a videoconferencing room to allow the participation of groups. 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. RWJ Partners will assist each practice with setting up Zoom and preparing for participation in the Project ECHO clinics.

How do I get no-cost CME credits by participating in Project ECHO clinics?
Participants who join Project ECHO clinics receive CME credits for each of the 60-minute clinic sessions they participate in for the full time. All CMEs from participation in Project ECHO clinics are given free of charge once submission of the post-session survey is complete. Email the RWJ Partners ECHO Clinic Coordinator directly for more information at Brittany.Sullivan@RWJBH.org.

What are the benefits of Project ECHO for patients?
The ECHO model improves health outcomes for patients while bolstering patient retention and satisfaction by improving access to care within the primary care setting for conditions that otherwise might have required a referral. With ECHO, patients with a wide range of chronic, complex conditions can be treated close to home, without waiting months for an appointment. The ECHO model has demonstrated that when patients are treated in their local communities, by providers they know and trust, it enhances their adherence to treatment and follow-up care.[1] Expert consultations between providers and academic specialists also directly impact the health of patients, who benefit from the provider’s increased knowledge of best practices.

Can participation in Project ECHO help me recruit and retain providers?
Project ECHO is a powerful tool in recruiting and retaining providers. Both in rural and urban areas, health center providers often feel professionally isolated. ECHO is a major selling point for providers, as it allows for professional development, CME credits, and access to a knowledge network of peers and experts. Providers participate in the ECHO model first and foremost to help their patients, and the model increases their capacity to do so. Increased provider satisfaction often results in greater provider retention.

Where can I go to learn more about the RWJ Partners Project ECHO program and how to participate?
You can learn more about Project ECHO by contacting the RWJ Partners ECHO Program Manager directly at Rachel.Born@RWJBH.org. RWJ Partners will also be hosting a series of conference calls over the next few months for open questions with the specialist team leads for the clinics. We maintain a standing open clinics list and will help you connect with the appropriate contact for the Project ECHO clinic(s) you are interested in. Currently, we are offering three clinics: 1) Pediatric Behavioral Health, 2) Complex Endocrinology, and 3) Chronic Pain Management. To learn more about RWJ Partners, please visit RWJPartners.org/ProjectECHO. We have a link to our Project ECHO Program as well as an introductory video on the website.

[1] Sanjeev Arora, MD, Karla Thornton, MD, Glen Murata, MD, et al. “Outcomes of Treatment for Hepatitis C Virus Infection by Primary Care Providers.” New England Journal of Medicine. June 9, 2011.

RWJP Project ECHO Video Conference for Primary Caregivers.

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