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Project ECHO at Penn State awarded “Superhub” status

Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) at Penn State became a “Superhub” this month, joining the ranks of more than 25 organizations with the designation worldwide. As a Superhub, Penn State is authorized to train new ECHO partners (called “hubs”) within the U.S. and across the globe – providing technical assistance and support to other ECHO partners as they grow their programs.

Project ECHO, a global nonprofit organization headquartered at The University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, uses a revolutionary guided-practice model that reduces health and education disparities in underserved and rural areas around the world.

ECHO “hubs” are sites that facilitate ECHO programs. “Superhubs” are sites that are authorized to train even more hubs, accelerating the spread of specialized knowledge at an exponential rate. They are vetted, have a high degree of fidelity to the ECHO model, and have the teaching capability and expertise to provide quality, immersive training and continuous mentorship.

“Our Penn State Project ECHO team is committed to advancing health equity through the dissemination of knowledge. Understanding that our zip code is more predictive than our genetic code in determining our health creates a mandate to rethink health care. Our status as a superhub reconfirms our commitment to this important mission,” said Dr. Jennifer Kraschnewski, director of Project ECHO at Penn State College of Medicine and a Penn State Health primary care clinician-investigator who studies community health interventions. “The College of Medicine’s team has embraced the opportunity to play this critical role in the ECHO movement as we work together to touch one billion lives by 2025.”

As a superhub, Project ECHO at Penn State intends to address two distinct needs:

  1. Standard training for new hubs in operational efficiency, marketing, research and adaptation of the ECHO model for medical and community education.
  2. ECHO training for established hubs in more advanced areas such as research, evaluation, grant writing and strategic planning. This training will be in collaboration with other superhubs, as well as the University of New Mexico, where all partners are empowered to share expertise. This training will serve as a continuation of the ECHO teams standing as a research hub and resource for all ECHO hubs, enhancing the evidence base for the ECHO model.

Since it launched in 2018, Project ECHO at Penn State has completed over 50 ECHO series in 30 topic areas and has added an additional 27 series with 16 new topics planned or underway in 2022. Its ECHO programs have covered topics in both clinical and community-facing areas throughout both the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the world, including Pakistan.

About the Project ECHO model

Project ECHO is an internationally-recognized, evidence-based approach to continuing education and tele-mentoring that leverages the power of sharing knowledge across miles and across disciplines. Project ECHO started at Penn State College of Medicine in 2018 and aims to improve health outcomes and access to care within and beyond Pennsylvania.

The Project ECHO model of continuing education leverages the power of all participants to learn and share together. ECHO sessions consist of a group discussion on de-identified patient cases submitted by participants followed by a brief flash talk with Q&A. As such, it is a guided, virtual learning community aimed at supporting health care providers in providing inclusive care to LGBTQI+ patients.

About Project ECHO at Penn State

Project ECHO at Penn State has been supported by funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, National Institutes of Health, Health Resources and Services Administration, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, Pennsylvania Department of Health, Boy Scouts of America and institutional funding. Led by a physician and clinical investigator, the ECHO team consists of 15 full-time staff with expertise in community-engaged research, project management, educational design, data analysis, public health, marketing and communications. Penn State has engaged in both the implementation and evaluation of this platform for over 50 ECHO series in 30 topic areas over the past three years, completing over 300 ECHO sessions. The ECHO team is on track to increase this number to over 65 series with 16 new topics planned in 2022.

To date, Project ECHO at Penn State has reached participants in 12 countries and 66 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties. The ECHO team has partnered with the Pennsylvania Department of Health to deliver an ECHO intervention to eight health systems, with 94 clinics, located across the state. Project ECHO at Penn State has provided nearly 2,200 continuing medical education credits and has delivered training to over 2,600 participants. The ECHO team routinely evaluates the ECHO program’s impact across topics and has identified 93% of participants reporting increased knowledge, 84% reporting improved ability to care for patients, 74% making changes in their practice, and importantly, during a time of high provider burnout and concern for mental health, 84% reporting decreased professional isolation.

About The ECHO Institute

Founded in 2003, Project ECHO is a global nonprofit that empowers practitioners and professionals in rural and underserved areas to reduce disparities and improve the well-being of people in the communities where they live. ECHO’s free, virtual mentoring model addresses some of the world’s greatest challenges in health care, education and more, with a mission to touch 1 billion lives by 2025.

Watch this video to learn if ECHO is right for you

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