Albuquerque Journal (12.30.11) - Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Since 2003, a University of New Mexico (UNM) program has
brought primary care clinicians from across the state together
for weekly video teleconferences to improve treatment outcomes
for hepatitis C patients.
"The goal of this model was to treat hepatitis C patients
everywhere in New Mexico as well as they were treated at the
university," said Dr. Sanjeev Arora, a UNM hepatologist and
founder of Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare
Outcomes). The project also serves as a training program and
is A "force multiplier" that allows a small group of
specialists to recruit local clinicians in treating hard-to-
cure illnesses, he said.
Each Wednesday, about a dozen clinicians take part.
Participants on the hepatitis C teleconferences, which are led
by Arora, include physicians and nurse practitioners from
clinics in Carlsbad, Las Cruces, Albuquerque, Las Vegas, and
Participant Debra Newman, a physician assistant at El Centro
Family Health in Espa�ola, receives hepatitis C patient
referrals from physicians throughout northern New Mexico. On a
recent teleconference, she described working with a patient
with end-stage liver disease experiencing severe side effects
in his 74th week of treatment. "We need to get this patient
through treatment and cure the virus," said Arora, since the
man would otherwise die or need a transplant.
Project ECHO now has expanded to sponsor clinics addressing 20
illnesses, including HIV/AIDS, with clinicians at 255 sites
statewide participating. Its $4 million annual cost is
supported by grants from funders including the Robert Wood
Johnson Foundation. For more information, visit: