The American Cancer Society is partnering with Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) at the University of New Mexico (UNM) School of Medicine to further our efforts in disseminating cancer control best practices through an innovative model of tele-mentoring.
Project ECHO was developed by UNM in 2003 to create guided technology-enhanced practice to increase capacity of front-line health care teams, improve systems of care, and reduce disparities across the country. Currently, UNM is partnering with more than 175 health care organizations around the world to share medical knowledge and ensure all patients get the right care at the right time, every time.
As part of the Cancer Control Blueprint, ACS plans to pilot Project ECHO in two priority areas: lung cancer patient support and tobacco cessation for residents of public housing.
The hub-and-spoke model of Project ECHO brings together an interdisciplinary team of expert specialists and subject matter experts at a centralized location (hub), with clinicians and other healthcare professionals in community-based clinics and hospitals (spokes). The spokes in the model present current patient cases, and then get mentoring and feedback from the specialists, thus helping the patient's health care team find answers and increase knowledge for the other spokes. This continuing education leads to greater knowledge of, and adherence to, national best practices in cancer prevention, screening, and treatment, and increases access to high-quality care in underserved locations.
Since the partnership agreement was signed, select ACS staff received training on the ECHO model, and an ACS ECHO Advisory Group is meeting regularly to develop recommendations and guidance on an implementation strategy for the organization. The Advisory Group is co-chaired by Sarah Shafir, MPH, strategic director of state and national systems, and Dawn Wiatrek, PhD, strategic director of cancer treatment access. The ACS is also building the information technology infrastructure for the two pilot projects.
The ACS Lung Cancer Patient Support ECHO, funded by a grant from the Bristol Meyers Squibb Foundation, launched on May 31 with 10 cancer centers committed to identifying and presenting challenging real-world cases ranging from screening to survivorship that a team of more than 12 hub experts will review and provide feedback on. "It has been described as 'a virtual grand rounds' where the latest in treatment and patient care is provided together with virtual case-based learning," said Dawn.
"We recognize that many health care professionals do not have access to the most up-to-date information in lung cancer survivorship, and need support and mentoring to implement best practices," said Kevin Oeffinger, MD, Duke Cancer Center, survivorship expert and lead facilitator for the ACS Lung Cancer Patient Support ECHO. "Further, lung cancer patients often face different and more complex challenges across the care continuum, requiring multidisciplinary coordinated care. The ECHO model supports the building of multidisciplinary cancer care teams to address these issues."
"Implementing an ECHO clinic is a complex process, and many individuals and departments have worked to make this a reality," said Dawn. Special thanks go to: the Regional Hospital System Teams in the South, Southeast, and North Central Regions, who helped recruit participating cancer centers; the National Lung Cancer Roundtable, which helped identify subject matter experts; the ACS Studio; the ACS IT Department and team that helped troubleshoot issues during the live sessions; and the Cancer Control Patient and Caregiver Support Team, to name a few. "Their ongoing efforts in prioritizing this work to ensure a successful launch are sincerely appreciated," said Dawn.
With funding from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, ACS will launch its second teleECHO clinic in early 2019 that will focus on increasing access to high-quality tobacco cessation services for residents of public housing. This pilot program in selected areas will serve as an important public health strategy as public housing agencies across the country prepare to go smoke-free July 30, 2018, to comply with the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Smoke-Free Public Housing rule.