Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is still a major health problem throughout the world. HCV patients living in rural areas are less fortunate than their counterparts residing in populous urbanized regions. The lack of medical resources and properly trained medical personnel in rural regions make it especially burdensome for HCV patients seeking treatment. Dr. Sanjeev Arora at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center took initiative to resolve the issue at hand by developing a model named Project Extension for Community Health Outcomes (ECHO). ECHO connects primary care providers (PCPs), usually family medicine physicians, in local communities with specialists. ECHO providers test the efficacy of treatment given using the ECHO model vs that at academic medical centers. The ECHO model has produced promising results such that the sustained virologic response rates for both types of sites were near-equivalent. Show Me ECHO was adapted from Project ECHO to train PCPs in Missouri and equip them with the tools and skills to properly treat and diagnose HCV in a timely manner. This healthcare model can be implemented for treating other common infections and chronic diseases. Telemedicine is the direction healthcare is headed for the next several decades. It has potential to be applied in developing countries to alleviate agony and despair resulting from limited resources and lack of access to expert medical care.
Tahan V, Almashhrawi A, Kahveci AM, Mutrux R, Ibdah JA. Extension for Community Health Outcomes-hepatitis C: Small steps carve big footprints in the allocation of scarce resources for hepatitis C virus treatment to remote developing areas. World J Hepatol. 2016 Apr 18;8(11):509-12. doi: 10.4254/wjh.v8.i11.509. PMID: 27099651; PMCID: PMC4832092.