Here’s what I bring to the table: 56 years of news experience, the unbelievable good fortune of having worked – for the most part, in-depth – in a variety of places from New York and Washington to Ecuador, Iraq, Thailand and Zimbabwe, on a wide variety of stories. I also do a lot of homework. But you know what? All that historical and contextual knowledge are only vegetable and salad, the main course always comes from the people who are there, or have been there very recently, or who have studied a subject, place, or moment with extreme intensity…the people who offer what I call eyes-on insights, but the essence of news is what’s happening now and why? The closer you are, the better your chances of being helpful to listeners, readers, viewers.
Our guest today, Sanjeev Arora, MD of the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center seems to feel the same way about medicine – that it is practiced best face-to-face; that the personal link between patient and healer may matter more than the general knowledge of a great specialist. Of course, if you could arm the local physician, physician’s assistant, nurse or health care worker with the knowledge and experience of a fine specialist, you could create the best health outcomes of all.
Sanjeev Arora, MD, FACG, MACP is the Director and Founder of Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes). He is a Distinguished Professor of Medicine with tenure in the Department of Internal Medicine at University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center. Dr. Arora developed the ECHO model as a way to dramatically improve both capacity and access to specialty care for rural and underserved populations. This is accomplished by linking expert inter-disciplinary specialist teams with primary care clinicians through teleECHO clinics, where the experts mentor primary care clinicians to treat complex conditions via guidance, feedback and didactic education. This helps rural clinicians develop knowledge and self-efficacy so they can adopt research findings and deliver best practice care. The first teleECHO clinic was developed in 2003 to respond to a growing health crisis hepatitis C and has since expanded to cover over 60 disease areas and complex issues at over 115 academic medical centers in 23 countries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Defense have also adopted the ECHO model to enhance access to specialty care. In 2007, Project ECHO came in first among more than 300 entries from 27 countries in winning the Changemakers award.