U.S. Senator Tom Udall will visit a Project ECHO™ (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) telehealth conference Monday morning to participate in a virtual-live rheumatology clinic with Dr. Sanjeev Arora, the Director of Project ECHO.

Project ECHO is a successful healthcare training program and knowledge network that helps primary care and community physicians in rural areas become experts in many health conditions, such as rheumatology, Hepatitis C, congestive heart failure and diabetes.

In May 2012, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded the project an additional $8.5 million Health Care Innovation Award as part of the Affordable Care Act to expand its operation.

The grant, which will be delivered over a three-year period, is based on Project ECHO’s eight years of success in New Mexico and two years Washington State, and is estimated to increase primary care physicians’ ability to serve patients while saving $11 million, training 150-300 workers and creating eight additional jobs.

Through a virtual network, rural physicians meet by videoconference with experts to co-manage patients and learn how to provide specialty treatments themselves. This allows rural patients to receive care in their communities rather spend additional time and money seeking care in urban areas far from home.

Project ECHO also trains Department of Veterans Affairs physicians and recently signed an agreement with the Department of Defense to create a global pain management program for the U.S. armed forces.

In 2009, Udall highlighted Dr. Arora’s work in delivering better training for healthcare providers and services for rural patients through Project ECHO clinics. Video from the speech is available here and the text here.

As a Congressman, Udall secured more than $176,000 to help UNM jumpstart Project ECHO. In the Senate, Udall is an Honorary Co-Chair of a Health Information Technology Steering Committee and leads a group of Senate offices exploring ways to increase the use of telehealth and improve the quality of rural healthcare.


Contact: Cindy Foster, 272-3322