Partnering urban academic medical centers and rural primary care clinicians to provide complex chronic disease care.
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Many of the estimated thirty-two million Americans expected to gain coverage under the Affordable Care Act are likely to have high levels of unmet need because of various chronic illnesses and to live in areas that are already underserved. In New Mexico an innovative new model of health care education and delivery known as Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) provides high-quality primary and specialty care to a comparable population. Using state-of-the-art telehealth technology and case-based learning, Project ECHO enables specialists at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center to partner with primary care clinicians in underserved areas to deliver complex specialty care to patients with hepatitis C, asthma, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, pediatric obesity, chronic pain, substance use disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular conditions, and mental illness. As of March 2011, 298 Project ECHO teams across New Mexico have collaborated on more than 10,000 specialty care consultations for hepatitis C and other chronic diseases.