Project ECHO: Enhancing palliative care for primary care occupational therapists and physiotherapists in Ireland

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Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) uses videoconferencing technology to support and train healthcare professionals (HCPs) remotely. A 4- month fortnightly ECHO programme was developed and implemented to enhance palliative care provision by primary care therapists. Teaching and case- based discussions were facilitated by palliative care specialists. A mixed- methods cohort study was used to evaluate the project. ECHO participants completed pre- and post- programme questionnaires regarding their knowledge and skills across key palliative care domains. Focus groups were held before programme commencement to explore participants' attitudes and experiences of palliative care and after programme conclusion to explore their experiences of ECHO. Twenty- six primary care HCPs commenced the ECHO programme. Mean scores in self- rated confidence in knowledge and skill improved significantly (p < .002) following the programme. Twenty- one primary care HCPs completed the post- ECHO surveys and scores of self- rated confidence in knowledge and skills were significantly higher than pre- ECHO scores. Ninety- five percent of participants (n = 19) reported ECHO met their learning needs and was an effective format to enhance clinical knowledge. Eighty- five percent of participants (n = 17) would recommend ECHO to their colleagues. Project ECHO improved palliative care knowledge and skills of primary care HCPs in Ireland, with potential to address the growing need for integrated palliative care services.