Hoeven: ECHO Act Will Help Providers Deliver Better Health-Care Services to Rural America

Measure Links Primary-Care Doctors and Specialists to Better Serve Rural Patients

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today announced that the Senate has passed the Expanding Capacity for Health Outcomes (ECHO) Act, bipartisan legislation that requires the Department of Health and Human Services to explore the expanded use of health-care videoconferencing technology for health-care professionals in rural communities so that patients get the best care possible.

“Technology has touched nearly every sphere of life in the modern world, linking rural communities with global markets and global information networks,” Hoeven said. “Now, the ECHO Act is working to connect primary care doctors in our rural and underserved communities, like many in North Dakota, with first-rate specialists in their field who would not otherwise be available to patients living and being treated in rural areas.”

Project ECHO is an innovative continuing medical education and consultation model that uses interactive videoconferencing to link specialist teams with primary care providers in rural and underserved areas. Together, they participate in weekly teleECHO™ clinics, which are supported by teleconferencing technology.

During teleECHO clinics, primary care clinicians from multiple sites present patient cases to the specialist teams and to each other, discuss new developments relating to their patients and determine the best treatment. Specialists serve as mentors and colleagues, sharing their medical knowledge and expertise with primary care clinicians.

The legislation has been endorsed by a number of health care associations, including the National Rural Health Association and National Association of Community Health Centers.