- The Expanding Capacity for Health Outcomes (ECHO) Act was recently introduced by Congressman Michael Burgess M.D. (R-TX) and Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA) aimed at increasing patient access to specialty care by adopting a telehealth model across the U.S.
- Project ECHO was initiated at the University of New Mexico in 2003 as a continuing medical education model that uses interactive videoconferencing to connect specialists with primary care physicians in rural areas, according to a blog post on Congressman Burgess' website.
- A 2015 report by Grand View Research shows the country's telehealth market is expected to reach $2.8 billion by 2022.
Congresswoman Matsui said the telehealth model in New Mexico provides a "more efficient health IT ecosystem," and the ECHO Act "would maximize the opportunities of technology in a way that truly transforms our healthcare landscape."
The legislation would require examining the benefits of integrating the Project ECHO model into local health systems by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Health Resources and Services Administration. The GAO would also be required to report on how increased adoption of a Project ECHO model might boost efficiencies and potential cost savings and improve healthcare.
The American Medical Association (AMA) and the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) support the ECHO Act. Dr. Barbara McAneny, immediate past chair of the AMA said Project ECHO has the potential to reduce chronic disease rates, and cut costs by reducing travel time to physician offices and fewer ER visits.
It also places a spotlight on collaboration between local universities and the local medical community, McAneny added, eliminating competition for patients.