Opioid Project Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (ECHO)
As the opioid epidemic increasingly impacts communities across the United States, health care providers struggle to combat the countless patients needing vital care. The non-medical use of prescription opioid pain relievers and the use of illicit opioids, including heroin, have led to an unprecedented increase in overdose deaths in Indiana.
The Opioid Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (ECHO) project is a partnership between local primary care providers and an Indiana University School of Medicine-led team of specialists who are focused on improving the treatment of opioid-use disorders in rural and underserved areas—at no cost to primary care providers. Through technology-enabled collaborative learning, the project facilitates mentoring and knowledge sharing, enabling local clinicians to provide best practice care for complex and chronic diseases in their communities.
The opioid project ECHO program allows participants to acquire new skills and competencies, expanding access to care. Clinicians quickly become part of a community of learners, increasing professional satisfaction and decreasing feelings of professional isolation. The program provides experience in development and retention, continued learning, and increased efficiency to primary care providers in rural and underserved areas throughout Indiana. For a health center, this means that providers are more productive and stay in their positions longer.
Health care centers and their providers also enjoy no-cost access to continued learning and expert-led consultations. Through this program, the health care participants in opioid project ECHO are more equipped to see more patients and to better utilize their staff. The program’s model allows health centers to be part of a professional network, making it easier for patients to be seen and empowering health centers to be part of an expert community.
This low-cost, high-impact intervention is achieved by leveraging technology to connect subject-matter experts and multiple local primary care providers through online video-conferencing, or teleECHO clinics. Each teleECHO clinic is led by experts at the IU School of Medicine with a particular educational focus on addiction and opioid use disorder diagnoses.