ECHO Ontario Chronic Pain & Opioid Stewardship: Providing Access and Building Capacity for Primary Care Providers in Underserviced, Rural, and Remote Communities

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Chronic pain is a prevalent and serious problem in the province of Ontario. Frontline primary care providers (PCPs) manage the majority of chronic pain patients, yet receive minimal training in chronic pain. ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) Ontario Chronic Pain & Opioid Stewardship aims to address the problem of chronic pain management in Ontario. This paper describes the development, operation, and evaluation of the ECHO Ontario Chronic Pain project. We discuss how ECHO increases PCP access and capacity to manage chronic pain, the development of a community of practice, as well as the limitations of our approach. The ECHO model is a promising approach for healthcare system improvement. ECHO's strength lies in its simplicity, adaptability, and use of existing telemedicine infrastructure to increase both access and capacity of PCPs in underserviced, rural, and remote communities.