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Project ECHO Launches National Institute To Spread Transformative Care Model; Embarks On Initiative With GE Foundation To Expand Mental Health Care Access

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the GE Foundation, and the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center today announced a new national institute focused on replicating Project ECHO and launched an innovative mental health clinic that could serve as a model for expanding access to mental health care across the country.

Located at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center in Albuquerque, the ECHO Institute will focus on spreading the ECHO model across the United States and globally. Sanjeev Arora, M.D., the social innovator and liver disease specialist who created the ECHO model, will lead the ECHO Institute.

“We believe that Project ECHO will be the new norm for health care everywhere,” said John Lumpkin, M.D., senior vice president and director of the Health Care Group at RWJF. “The ECHO Institute will work to advance that goal.”

Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) is a groundbreaking approach to increasing access to specialty care that started in New Mexico for hepatitis C treatment. It has now expanded beyond New Mexico and includes many other common, chronic, and complex diseases.

At a briefing held today in Washington, D.C., RWJF and the GE Foundation convened a panel of prominent experts to discuss how new care delivery models like Project ECHO can help meet the growing need for mental health and substance abuse treatment that is integrated and coordinated with primary care.

The GE Foundation’s investment in this new model reflects its longstanding commitment to improving access to health care across the nation and globally. Bob Corcoran, president and chairman of the GE Foundation, announced a new way to improve access to mental health and substance abuse treatment by bringing these services into primary care settings. The GE Foundation is funding Project ECHO to prototype and evaluate a new model of care through which Project ECHO will train and then mentor a team of primary care clinicians to provide mental health treatment at community health centers in rural and underserved areas of New Mexico. If the model proves to be successful, it will be replicated at other Project ECHO sites.

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