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Kent State College of Nursing Designated a Project ECHO® Hub
A team of investigators at Kent State University College of Nursing are using video teleconferencing technology, known as Project ECHO®, to reduce healthcare disparities and improve access to high quality care. Wendy Umberger, Ph.D., RN, PMHCNS-BC, associate dean for graduate studies, Andrea Warner Stidham, Ph.D., MSN, RN, assistant professor, Kimberly Williams, DSN, RN, associate professor and psychiatric nurse practitioner, and Mark Arredondo, M.D., Chief University Physician at Kent State University, are passionate about providing clinicians in rural and underserved communities in Ohio and beyond, the education and tools they need to establish thriving interprofessional teams, which are fundamental to the successful integration of behavioral health and primary care.
Project ECHO®, (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes), is a case-based learning model created in 2003 by University of New Mexico’s Sanjeev Arora, M.D., a liver disease specialist. Dr. Sanjeev developed the digital platform as a way to distribute his knowledge during an epidemic of Hepatitis C in New Mexico. Today, Project ECHO® clinics are being utilized worldwide to share knowledge among healthcare and academic professionals. Becoming a designated Project ECHO® hub was a component of the $1.1 million Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training (BHWET) Program grant the college received in 2017, which included a budget for the technology and equipment necessary to successfully run the TeleECHO program. Currently there are four locations in Ohio that house Project ECHO® Hubs, however Kent State’s Team Building for Successful Integrated Care, is the first hub housed in a college of nursing.
“Integrated care is combining behavior health care with physical health care, and part of the issue we see is that it is expected to happen, but there is not a lot of training for how it should happen,” said Warner Stidham. “Primary care professions know what to do with primary care, but they don't necessarily know what to do with mental health care, and vice versa. As such, our work is focused on bringing these providers together so they know what to do and when to do it.”
Unlike an academic setting where instructors exclusively provide knowledge to students, Project ECHO® utilizes a hub and spoke knowledge-sharing system designed to create a bi-directional learning loop. Community providers will have the opportunity to learn from specialists and each other, in addition to the specialists learning from the community providers as best practices occur. Kent State College of Nursing’s TeleECHO clinic will consist of monthly hour-long sessions starting at 12:00 pm EST on the 2nd Tuesday of every month. The hour will begin with a 20-minute didactic lecture on a specific topic relevant to integrated care. Following the lecture, community participants may present pre-submitted de-identified cases or team building strategies for an in-depth discussion related to building successful integrated care practices. As part of their integrated care endeavor, the team hopes to have future collaborations with representatives from Kent State’s Health Services and the different disciplines that health professionals encounter in integrated care settings such as psychology and social work.
“We all benefit by sharing knowledge. By helping providers work more efficiently and effectively, the more it will benefit the lives of people who require specialized care,” said Warner Stidham. “As faculty members, we look forward to gaining a better understanding of what's truly happening in the sites so we can share that knowledge with our students who will someday be working in these areas.”
There is no cost or membership to participate in Kent State College of Nursing’s TeleECHO program. However, participants will need access to either a smartphone or computer webcam, although calling in through telephone is also an option. For more information or to join the Team Building for Successful Integrated Care TeleECHO Program, please email NursingECHO@kent.edu. The next session will take place on Tuesday, December 11, 2018.