The University of Wyoming was designated as an ECHO superhub last week.  It is one of four new superhubs announced by Project ECHO that will build capacity in health care and education access in the US and across the globe.

The medical education and care delivery model known as Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) has created superhubs poised to play a crucial role in increasing the number of regional centers participating in the project.

“With the new superhubs on board, we are entering a new and exciting phase of this collective effort. Together, we want to change the world, fast,” says Sanjeev Arora, creator of the ECHO model and director of the ECHO Institute at the University of New Mexico Health and Sciences Center.  “This will allow millions more people in rural and underserved communities to access health care and other services that they need.”

The ECHO model has been translated with great success by the Wyoming Institute for Disabilities (WIND) in the UW College of Health Sciences.  The goal of the adapted model is to provide support and training to educators in the interests of students who need assistive technology strategies.  Hubs in Wyoming and other states focused on education and disabilities will be trained by WIND in evidence-based tele-mentoring practices.  In addition, WIND will work to develop several new hubs in collaboration with the Wyoming Department of Health and the Wyoming Department of Education.

“Thanks to the University of Wyoming, we’re getting a clearer picture of ECHO’s potential to help people in new and different ways. The Wyoming Institute for Disabilities has implemented a wonderful and unique innovation of the ECHO model by applying it to help students in need of assistive technologies,” said Arora.

At the University of Wyoming, Project ECHO uses tele-mentoring to provide access to high-quality specialty care in local school districts which enables more students to obtain the proper services or care in the correct setting at the ideal moment.

WIND interim director Sandra Root-Elledge says that UW was the first in the country to adapt the ECHO model from its initially intended use in health care to serve educational needs that had gone unmet.

The institute is working with the UW College of Education’s Wyoming Center for Educational Leadership in an effort to develop an ECHO network of educational leadership training for curriculum directors and superintendents.  WIND is also working with the Wyoming Department of Education’s Division of Individual Learning to support early literacy, student transitions, positive behavioral supports, and networks in autism.

The Wyoming Department of Health is working with WIND to create ECHO networks to provide augmented services for individuals with adults who need long-term care, individuals with developmental disabilities, and children with mental health care needs.

“Just within our first year of work, we have participation from five additional states; we had a site visit from administrators at a school in India; and interest from Qatar,” Root-Elledge says.  “Now, ECHO India wants to replicate exactly what we are doing when they build a sufficient infrastructure.”

ECHO “hubs” are regional that provided guided practice and mentoring to local provider sites known as “spokes” through regular teleECHO sessions that are supported by videoconferencing technology.  Expertise and knowledge is gained by multidisciplinary teams that take part at community sites, allowing them to properly serve local students or patients.

The ECHO Institute at the University of New Mexico Health and Sciences Center had been the only trainer of ECHO hubs until recently.  The goal of touching one billion lives can only be achieved by making training more widely available.