Like much of the country, the opioid overdose epidemic has hit Virginia hard. Project ECHO was started a year ago to make it easier for physicians in remote or rural communities to gain knowledge and access to resources available from hubs of medical knowledge.
Carilion Hospital in Roanoke is one such hub, where we visited with Dr. Cheri Hartman, department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine.
Tell us about Carilion’s participation as a Project ECHO hub:
Dr. Hartman: We are delighted to be part of the Virginia ECHO project. We traveled to Albuquerque to the University of Mexico where the Global ECHO movement is headquartered, to get our training in the best practices of this video conference methodology for disseminating medical best practices around the world.
How often do you hold ECHO clinics at Carilion?
Dr. Hartman: we sponsor ECHO clinics twice a month. It’s been the second and fourth Fridays of each month, on topics that are relevant to the office-based opioid treatment programming.
How far is your reach across the state?
Dr. Hartman: Using the ZOOM technology means people can join our ECHO sessions from literally anywhere, not just in the state but across the country! In Virginia, we have reached physician offices as far away as Colonial Heights, up toward Winchester and into the southwest corner of the state.
Who can participate in your Project ECHO sessions?
Dr. Hartman: We have a variety of participants, ranging from prescribers to therapists. Care coordinators also join us. Because of the ARTs initiative that now allows for reimbursement of care coordination, we do get questions about hiring of care coordinators, what credentials are required and what are the best practices to adopt in your office- based opioid treatment program.
What kind of feedback are you receiving so far from ECHO participants?
Dr. Hartman: After each session, we survey the participants. We’ve received very positive feedback about the usefulness of the sessions. We try to make each session relevant to their clinical work, and this is being affirmed through the survey results. They are finding Project ECHO sessions helpful and useful, and they’ll also identify specific ideas that they’re going to go back and implement at their healthcare practice.
Carilion Hospital is one of three Project ECHO hubs in Virginia. The other two are located at Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Virginia. The project is being coordinated through the Virginia Department of Health.