- ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) is a concept of weekly or fortnightly virtual clinics that use teleconferencing to bridge the gap in healthcare resources by using the best specialists to reach out to underserved areas.
- But unlike telemedicine, ECHO clinics do not provide care directly to patients. Instead, they equip primary healthcare clinicians — doctors, nurses and other health workers — in remote areas with the knowledge and support to manage complex cases. Essentially, it brings specialist care and knowledge to areas where there is none.
- Project ECHO began in 2003 in New Mexico when Dr Sanjeev Arora, a liver disease specialist in Albuquerque, US, realised that there were thousands of people in the state of New Mexico with Hepatitis C but with no access to treatment because there were no specialists where they lived.
- It’s then that Dr Arora began ECHO, bringing together local clinicians and specialists through weekly virtual clinics.
- India’s first ECHO clinic began in 2008 as a collaboration between the National Aids Control Organisation (NACO) and Maulana Azad Medical College (MAMC) on managing HIV AIDS patients.
- Since then, ECHO clinics in the country have tackled addiction and substance use disorders, mental health, tuberculosis, hepatitis C, liver diseases, cancer screening and prevention, among others.