Project ECHO: utilizing education to build capacity in geriatric mental health

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Background:Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) is a novel education program using videoconferencing technology to build capacity of primary care providers (PCPs), share knowledge through collabora-tive learning and discuss cases in real-time. ECHO facilitates Communities of Practice using a hub-and-spoke model, connecting specialists at academic centres (Hub) with PCPs (Spokes) particularly in rural, underserved areas. Originating in New Mexico, ECHO now reaches 34 counties. In 2018, Baycrest, collaborating with North East Specialized Geriatric Centre, launched ECHO Care of the Elderly (COE), the first ECHO in Canada focused on geriatric mental health and frail, complex aging patients.

Method:ECHO COE runs weekly in 10-15 week cycles. Each weekly session includes a short didactic presentation on a specific topic by the Hub team followed by cases presented by spokes. Questions, discussion and recommendations are skillfully facilitated by trained Hub members. Spokes have access to a website with resources, discussion board and recorded didactic presentations. During the workshop, a live mini “mock” ECHO session will be utilized to demonstrate.

Results:ECHO COE PCP participants have shown improve-ments in knowledge and self-efficacy. BPSD, mood disorders, dementia, sleep disorders and delirium were noted as being useful and relevant to participants’ practice, indicating a need for knowledge sharing in geriatric mental health.

Conclusions:This workshop will describe the Project ECHO philosophy and methodology and identify the benefits of implementing an ECHO program for building capacity of PCPs in geriatric mental health. This workshop will provide participants with the simulated experience of collaborative learning through the ECHO process.