Fri, Dec 9, 2016 | updated 05:06 PM IST

ECHO India reinforces national priority of expanding healthcare delivery to rural communities

Updated: Nov 09, 2016 11:08 IST

New Delhi [India], Nov.9 (ANI-Businesswire India): ECHO India held its maiden orientation training program on November 8 here with over hundred doctors and healthcare professionals who were trained in the Project ECHO methodology, which serves to improve healthcare delivery in rural and underserved areas in India.

Healthcare delivery in underserved areas is a huge challenge the world over. The leveraging of scarce resources of a nation in remote areas is extremely difficult. Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) started in rural community of New Mexico, one of the underdeveloped states of USA in 1994 is built to address this challenge.

The 'hub and spoke' model leverages multipoint video conferencing technology to mentor physicians and allied healthcare professionals on a regular basis from a team of experts at a center of excellence. Real cases are presented, their treatment discussed, and outcomes monitored during these sessions. The rural healthcare physicians treat patients with complex problems under the guidance of experts, with excellent outcomes. The patients thus receive latest medical care in their area of residence.

The model has proved extremely successful and is currently utilized by 93 institutions in over 15 countries. The ECHO philosophy is exemplified in the brief slogan, "Moving Knowledge, Not Patients."

Speaking at the Orientation Programme, Col (Retd) Kumud Rai, Chairman ECHO, India, emphasized; 'The Indian healthcare environment provides a one-of-a-kind opportunity for the adoption of the ECHO model. The need for specialty care in India, especially in rural settings, is substantial and growing. System-wide integration of Project ECHO offers a solution that can benefit the entire population.'

Dr. Sunil Anand, Executive Director ECHO, India, expanded, "The ECHO model helps to reinforce the national priority set forth by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in August 2014 of expanding digital access in rural communities, and of "skilling India."

ECHO Programs are run by several important institutions like NIMHANS (National Institute of Mental Health & Allied Sciences) Bangalore, ILBS (Institute of Liver & Biliary Sciences) New Delhi, Karuna Trust Bangalore (NICPR (National Institute of Cancer Prevention & Research), PGI Chandigarh, and INASAL (Indian National Association for Study of Liver Diseases.

Over 100 Physicians and healthcare institutions from 23 Institutions participated in the one-day Event. These included Ambience Public School New Delhi, India Literacy Project Hyderabad, LV Prasad Eye Institute Hyderabad, PHFI (Public Health Foundation of India), PALLIUM Trivandrum, NIMHANS Bangalore, ILBS (New Delhi, NICPR, PGI Chandigarh, and INASAL, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Medanta the Medicity, and the Cipla, & WISH Foundations, and Karuna Trust Bangalore. Physicians from the Indian Army & Air Force also participated in the event.

The day-long program started with the Overview of Project ECHO and its impact by Dr. Sanjeev Arora, Director Project ECHO, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, USA, who delivered it through video conferencing. The Keynote Address was delivered by Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, Director General ICMR, who spoke about disparities in healthcare in India, and how these can be bridged. Since these clinics employ video conferencing technology, IT Overview was presented by Jonathan Wolfe, CTO, Project ECHO. The delegates participated in a live ECHO Clinic on Addiction, run out of NIIMHANS Bangalore. The Basic Requirements for setting up an ECHO Clinic were talked about by Erika Harding, MA, Incharge of Project ECHO Replication Initiative.; Dr. Sunil Anand (Executive Director ECHO, India) spoke about the challenges of implementing this model in India. A session on snapshots of existing ECHO Programs in India was also held, wherein the Leaders running these clinics in India shared their experiences. A Vote of Thanks was proposed by Col (Retd) Kumud Rai, Chairman ECHO, India.(ANI-Businesswire India)