The following is a guest post from Dr. Marwan Haddad MD, MPH, Medical Director of HIV, HCV, and Buprenorphine Services at Community Health Center, Inc.
This Friday January 20th is the launch of the very cutting edge, state of the art, evidence-based program CHC Project ECHO® Hepatitis C/HIV. Project ECHO® stands for Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes and is a model that was developed at the University of New Mexico initially to extend Hepatitis C care and management to the rural clinics.
The model linked Hepatitis C experts to primary care providers who on a weekly basis met through video conferencing during which the providers presented their patients and the experts made recommendations. Through case presentations and didactic teaching, the providers attending these sessions in time became comfortable and adept at managing Hepatitis C patients and developed expertise in their own right. Patients treated under the ECHO model achieved the same, if not better, outcomes, than those patients treated in the specialty clinics.
We are very excited to adapt this model at CHC in order for us to extend the integration of our expert Hepatitis C and HIV care across the agency. Currently, CHC offers HIV and Hepatitis C management and treatment as part of primary care at three of the larger CHC sites, New Britain, Meriden, and Middletown. Through CHC Project ECHO®, starting Friday, we will be offering HIV/Hepatitis C care in 6 more sites across Connecticut including Bristol, Norwalk, Waterbury, Enfield, Clinton, and New London.
One provider at each site will attend weekly sessions with the CHC HIV/Hepatitis C faculty comprised of medical, psychiatric, and pharmacy experts. At these sessions, the providers will present cases from their local panels and will receive advice and direction on how to manage and treat these patients. Providers will learn from the case presentations as well as from HIV and Hepatitis C educational sessions during the weekly meetings.
The goal is to develop a local expert in HIV and Hepatitis C care so that CHC patients who are infected with these diseases as well as the greater local community that CHC serves have one patient-centered medical home they can access for all their care if they so desire. Most patients prefer to come to one center to receive their care and now CHC patients across Connecticut can add HIV and Hepatitis C care to the list of expert services being offered to them.
This program is particularly important for the many patients who live in CHC communities where local specialists do not exist or where the specialists don’t take their insurance. CHC Project ECHO® is meant not to take patients away from specialists but to give our patients one more choice in where they would like to receive care or to offer specialty care where none exists.
In continuing to pursue our mission, our fight to achieve a society where healthcare is a right and not a privilege, and our establishment of a world class primary care health center, CHC Project ECHO® Hepatitis C/HIV is one more reason why CHC is indeed the innovative leader in healthcare delivery.