Title

Amplifying Expertise in Rural West Virginia through Project ECHO: Impactful Partnerships and Community-Engagement

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Summer 2021

Abstract

Background: Limited specialty care access is a major contributor to rural health disparities. Extensions for Community Healthcare Outcomes (ECHO) is an innovative training and education strategy to address the need for trained specialty care in rural areas, such as West Virginia (WV). This article describes the successful implementation of ECHO projects in diverse subject areas facilitated by unique partnerships between the WV Clinical and Translational Science Institute (WVCTSI) and its practice partners. WV Project ECHO aims to provide education and training in specialty areas through the use of technology and partnerships.

Methods: A case-based session coupled with a brief relevant didactic presentation is used to amplify rural provider specialty expertise through education of primary care physicians (PCPs) in specific clinical areas. Foundational partnerships and impact are described.

Conclusions: Key lessons learned include leveraging existing partnerships and implementing projects based on provider needs. A unique result of WV Project ECHO is WV Medicaid’s decision to accept case presentations made during the Hepatitis C ECHO session as the specialty consultation requirement (e.g., hepatologist or infectious diseases) for Medicaid coverage of hepatitis C drugs, thus increasing the number of patients receiving Hepatitis C treatment. A multipartnered community approach facilitated by the widespread use of a technology-based provider education platform has facilitated the availability of curative therapy for a potentially fatal disease.

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