Supporting peer learning networks for case-based learning in public health: Experience of the Rocky Mountain Public Health training center with the ECHO training model

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Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (ECHO) is a model for professional training and support now being used widely in clinical health care. ECHO provides training for health care professionals in their own communities by creating peer learning groups connected by live bidirectional video communications. Topic experts lead the sessions, but most of the learning occurs through case presentations and consultations. Although similar to telemedicine, ECHO differs in that the responsibility for patient care remains with the primary care learners. The Rocky Mountain Public Health Training Center—which supports training for the public health workforce in the six-state region of Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, and North and South Dakota—has adapted the ECHO health care model for public health training, using the ECHO learning principles of creating and supporting peer learning networks connected by live bidirectional video, and employing a case-based learning approach. The public health ECHO trainings are facilitated by subject matter experts, focus on real-life public health challenges, and use programs or scenarios within communities as “cases.” This article looks at early success in using the ECHO model for public health training on topics such as local public health agency quality improvement, patient navigation, food safety, tobacco control, obesity prevention, tuberculosis management, and HIV prevention. The Rocky Mountain Public Health Training Center continues to refine its implementation of the ECHO learning model across a wide range of public health and population health topics and shows great promise as a framework for regional public health training.