Project Echo Chronic Pain and Headache Tele-clinic University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM
Project ECHO Chronic Pain and Headache Tele-clinic offers traditional, integrative multimodal approaches to chronic, noncancer pain. (ECHO is an acronym for Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes.) Primary care clinicians present patient cases to the interdisciplinary ECHO Pain Team via Web technology. It is in this way that rural and underserved pain patients receive evidence-based care within their own communities from their trusted and familiar primary care provider. Such providers are attuned to the needs, culture, language, and customs of patient populations in rural areas. This is particularly important because many areas of New Mexico are impoverished, vast in terms of geography, and quite varied in culture (tribal, pueblo, and Hispanic patient populations).
Travel to one of only two Interdisciplinary Pain clinics in New Mexico presents a barrier to rural patients. Access to the ECHO Pain Tele-Clinic provides expert pain management to all New Mexicans because travel is no longer a barrier.
There is no charge for the services that ECHO provides, as is funded through a Robert Wood Johnson grant. Unlike traditional telemedicine, which serves one patient per video connection, the ECHO model provides case-based learning to many primary care clinicians who participate at the same time. Rural providers become local champions of pain, and become a valuable resource to their local colleagues. This innovative model acts to multiply exponentially the efforts of the ECHO Pain team. Outcome measurement is one of the team’s main focuses, and in 2010 they will evaluate how their program impacts pain care for patients and clinicians.