Dementia care training for primary care providers: Project ECHO

Document Type


Publication Date



OBJECTIVE: Demonstrate the feasibility of training primary care providers in the delivery of dementia care in New Mexico using the Project ECHO™ model. BACKGROUND: Aging of the baby boom generation is creating an epidemic of dementia. Concern for adequate delivery of dementia care, including diagnosis, treatment and management, has prompted calls for more professionals, more training and more resources to handle this need. Project ECHO™, a lifelong learning and guided practice model revolutionizes medical education and exponentially increases workforce capacity to provide best-practice specialty care and reduce health disparities. The University of New Mexico applied this model of distance education to the scarcity of expert dementia care in our state. DESIGN/METHODS: Local experts in neurology, geriatrics, psychiatry, nursing, social work, pharmacy and from community partner NM Alzheimer Association were recruited. A network of community primary care providers, clinics, homecare and other interested professionals were identified. Biweekly multi-point videoconference virtual clinics were held over two years. Clinics consist of case presentation and discussion and a didactic on dementia-related topics. No-cost CME/CUE is an incentive. RESULTS: Two full curricular cycles are complete. Consultations were provided for 43 individuals. More than 450 hours of CME/CEU were granted. Professionals have called in from across the country and the world. Members of 15 different professional disciplines have participated. Evaluation over the term averaged 4.8 on a 1 to 5 scale. The ECHO Dementia Care Clinic serves as a platform for interprofessional education for 8 schools and programs at the University. CONCLUSIONS: The Project ECHO model has proven to be an effective tool for dementia care education and training in the state of New Mexico. The next phase, certification of Centers of Excellence in Dementia Care, is in the planning stages. Study Supported by: Donald W. Reynolds Foundation