Quality & Science

ASAM Applauds Senate Passage of the ECHO Act

by ASAM Staff | December 1, 2016

December 1, 2016 – On November 29, the U.S. Senate voted to pass the Expanding Capacity for Health Outcomes (ECHO) Act (S.2873/H.R.5395). The ECHO Act, introduced by Sens. Hatch (R-UT) and Schatz (D-HI), aims to better integrate the Project ECHO model of technology-enabled collaborative learning and capacity-building into health systems across the country. This would be done through a study at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regarding the model and its impact on addressing certain disease conditions, health care workforce issues, the implementation of public health programs, and the delivery of health care services in underserved areas. The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) applauds the Senate passage of the ECHO Act and urges the House to take up and pass the ECHO Act as well.

Project ECHO, which stands for extension for community health outcomes, is an innovative continuing medical education 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 that combine didactic teaching with mentoring and case-based learning. Project ECHO has numerous demonstrated uses, including addressing disease conditions and topic areas, providing a complex care program offering support to multidisciplinary teams, and establishing public health interventions in underserved areas. The ECHO Act will outline opportunities for increased adoption of such models and provide recommendations to advance their use.

“Only about 10% of physicians practice in rural America, yet nearly 25% of the population lives there. Project ECHO is well known for its benefits, providing patients with improved access to quality care by increasing knowledge for providers and strengthening provider networks,” said ASAM President-Elect Dr. Kelly Clark. “That is why ASAM has been a frequent collaborator with Project ECHO on several projects, including our FAME clinics, and a supporter of the ECHO Act. We thank Sens. Hatch and Schatz for introducing this bill and the U.S. Senate for passing it.”

The ECHO Act now goes to the House of Representatives for debate and a vote. Reps. Burgess (R-TX) and Matsui (D-CA) were the House sponsors of the ECHO Act. ASAM urges the House to take up and pass the ECHO Act as well.

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