What is Project ECHO?
Project ECHO is... a lifelong learning and guided practice model that revolutionises medical education and clinical team support.
Project ECHO is… A not-for-profit movement to improve care by gathering a community of practice together for learning and support with the goal of improving decision-making by collaborative problem solving.
The heart of the ECHO model are its hub-and-spoke knowledge-sharing networks. These networks of generalists and specialists are supported to form communities of practice with the input from the hub of dedicated IT, administration and trained facilitation of the virtual meetings.
Communities of practice
Communities of practice are people who share a passion for something they do and who interact regularly to learn how to do it better:
- Shared focus. Membership involves commitment to a shared competence that distinguishes members from others;
- The community. Members engage in joint activities and discussions, help each other, and share information. They build relationships that enable them to learn from each other;
- The practice. Members of a community of practice are practitioners. They develop shared resources: experiences, skills, knowledge, tools, ways of addressing recurring problems - a shared practice.
In this way, for example, primary care doctors, nurses, and other clinicians are supported to provide excellent specialist care to patients in their own communities, while secondary or tertiary care specialists learn to integrate their models of care “in the real world” across a wider population base through collaborative problem solving and peer support.
This allows more people to get the help and information they need, quicker. In turn more patients get the right care, in the right place, at the right time.
This improves outcomes and may reduce financial and emotional costs by improving the quality of decision making across the community of practice.