Tuesday, March 18, marked the kick-off event in which Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) and three Delaware health centers are joining together in Project ECHO Buprenorphine – another of CHC’s ECHO programs. Dr. Daren Anderson, Dr. Richard Feuer, Dr. Marwan Haddad and Agi Erickson, the Project ECHO manager, represented CHC and the Weitzman Quality Institute (WQI) as they traveled to the Delaware Medical Society on Tuesday to jumpstart the bi-weekly ECHO BUP video-conferencing sessions. Additional WQI staff setup in the Kibner room at our Meriden site to participate in ECHO while connecting via video with fellow staff in Delaware.
In the Fall of 2013, Delaware’s Westside Family Healthcare network began participating in Community Health Center, Inc.’s (CHC) Project ECHO Pain Management, a telehealth program that provides front line primary care providers with the support and expert advice they need to gain confidence in managing complex patient cases. Building on the success of this relationship, three additional Delaware health centers are now joining in Project ECHO Buprenorphine – another of CHC’s ECHO programs. The health centers include Thresholds, Inc., Kent Sussex Community Services, and Horizon House of Delaware.
Approximately 2.28 million Americans are affected by opioid dependence and abuse, including use of heroin or prescription pain killers. Although opioid substitution therapy, such as methadone and buprenorphine, has documented effectiveness in treating opioid dependence, access to specially licensed and highly structured methadone maintenance programs is limited. Over 80 percent of the opioid-dependent population is untreated. Recent legislation has allowed certified physicians to prescribe buprenorphine in primary care settings, making opioid maintenance treatment more available and easier to access. Despite this legislation, few primary care physicians currently obtain certification to prescribe buprenorphine maintenance treatment. One reason may be the lack of access to expert consultation, advice and support for the front line provider. Project ECHO provides that support.
“While buprenorphine can be legally prescribed in primary care settings by appropriately licensed providers, CHC’s Project ECHO® Buprenorphine sessions provide the necessary support to enable them to use the medication effectively and confidently, thereby expanding access to this crucial treatment to a much larger population of patients,” explained Dr. Daren Anderson Director of the Weitzman Quality Institute and VP/Chief Quality Officer of CHC.