Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), have introduced the “Expanding Capacity for Health Outcomes Act of 2019” (ECHO 2019 Act) legislation.
The ECHO 2019 Act would increase access to healthcare services in rural areas by expanding the use of technology-based collaborative learning and capacity building models. The education models referred to as Project ECHO, connect specialists with other healthcare professionals through the use of technology.
The ECHO model is an innovative medical education program that uses interactive video conferencing to link specialist teams with primary care providers in rural areas. The ECHO 2019 Act would provide grants and technical assistance to further develop and evaluate the ECHO model and other similar models.
The grants would provide funding for:
- Equipment to support the use and expansion of the models, including for the secure exchange of electronic health information
- Services under this model to be provided by healthcare providers
- Instructional programming and training needed to work with these models
- Collecting information and evaluating the impact of using these models
- Other activities as determined by the HHS Secretary
The legislation builds on the findings of the 2016 ECHO act, a law authored by Senator Schatz, which required the HHS Secretary to examine ECHO models and to deliver a report to Congress on the findings.
Senator Murkowski reports that the ECHO model already being used in Alaska has expanded access to resources on behavioral health, pain management, and developmental disabilities for people across Alaska.
Go to https://www.murkowski.senate.gov for more details on the legislation.