Project ECHO Pain, the innovative telementoring program for health professionals, was developed in 2009 at the University Of New Mexico Health Sciences Center to fill considerable gaps in pain management expertise. Substantive continuing education for clinicians who practice in rural and underserved communities convenes weekly by means of telehealth technology. Case-based learning, demonstrations, and didactics are incorporated into the interprofessional program that helps to improve pain management in the primary care setting.
Three different approaches were used to evaluate the program over a 3-year period: (1) evaluation of all weekly continuing medical education surveys; (2) aggregation of annual clinic data; and (3) assessment of practice change in clinicians who joined Project ECHO Pain for at least 1 year.
Between January 2010 and December 2012, 136 Project ECHO Pain clinics were held, with 3835 total instances of participation, representing 763 unique individuals from 191 different sites. Sixty percent self-identified as advanced practice or other nonphysician health professional. Statistically significant improvements in participant self-reported knowledge, skills, and practice were demonstrated. Focus group analyses of 9 subjects detailed specific practice improvements.
Project ECHO Pain is a successful continuing professional development program. The telementoring model closes the large knowledge gap in pain education seen in primary care and other settings. Expertise is delivered by implementing effective, evidence-based, and work-based education for diverse health professionals. Project ECHO Pain serves as a model for interprofessional collaborative practice.