Despite the growth in enrollment at existing medical schools and the emergence of new schools, there's still a physician shortage in many parts of the United States, particularly in rural areas. Even in some urban environments, there's a shortage of specialty care, necessitating long trips to see a doctor or specialist. So how can medical professionals spread existing care to underserved areas? Today, we hear about Project ECHO (Extended Community Healthcare Outcomes), a collaborative care model whereby a specialist offers telemedical consultation to local doctors about specific cases the providers are seeing in the remote areas they serve.
Here in Tulsa, the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences has become a Project ECHO center, offering collaborative care in a variety of specialties to doctors throughout Oklahoma and neighboring states. Our guest is Dr. Sara Coffey, a pediatric psychiatrist and co-director of Project ECHO at the OSU Center who explains how this model of care works.