ECHO HIP: Phase 1: A needs assessment for continuing professional education for health information professionals

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Project Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (Project ECHO) is an innovative clinical education and tele-mentoring model that aims to democratize knowledge and build capacity in the healthcare workforce. ECHO uses a hub-and-spoke model to connect rural and underserved areas (spokes) to learn from each other and from inter-professional specialists (hub). Primarily focused on health care provider education, the ECHO model has not yet been applied to health librarianship. ECHO has the potential to be leveraged by health information professionals (HIP) to share best practices, develop specialty expertise and create a virtual community of practice. Each ECHO session is comprised of a didactic presentation, and case-based learning. To better understand the needs of HIPs and develop a curriculum, a needs assessment survey was developed and conducted. The survey focused on the need for a telehealth based model of continuing education (CE) for HIPs across Canada, and what topic areas should be considered. Based on preliminary data (n=46) 61% of respondents would likely attend ECHO sessions for HIPs, with an additional 35% uncertain. Preferred frequency of sessions is monthly. Didactic topics of greatest interest were literature searching, emerging technologies and evidence-based librarianship. All respondents, so far, have been from medium or large urban centres. There is definite interest in pursuing CE for HIPs based on the ECHO model. One limitation of the survey is the lack of respondents from small/rural communities, which may be addressed once data collection is complete. Future steps include determining funding models and infrastructure, and exploring multilingual options.