11 / 01 / 2019
ECHO Distance Learning: first results and plans for the future

In 2018 almost 80 doctors and nurses from 15 primary healthcare clinics in 7 Ukrainian cities participated in educational online sessions organized in the framework of “Integrating Addiction Treatment and HIV-services into Primary Healthcare Clinics in Ukraine” Project.

The Ukrainian Institute on Public Health Policy in cooperation with the Yale School of Medicine (USA) launched “Integrating Addiction Treatment and HIV-services into Primary Healthcare Clinics in Ukraine” Project in 2016. The Project foresees implementation of integrated medical care provision models into the primary healthcare clinics in 12 regions of Ukraine as well as introducing interventions aimed at improving care provision through comprehensive training delivered to the primary healthcare medical personnel.

The ECHO (Extension for Community Health Outcomes) Distance Learning Program was launched in March 2018 and it remains one of the key components of the Project. ECHO provides distance learning based on validated empirical evidence and is part of lifelong learning practice for medical professionals. The ECHO model is a knowledge sharing network led by primary healthcare clinicians and narrow specialists in the field of addiction treatment, phthisiology, and infectious diseases, who spokes as mentors of the model.

Long term guidance and technical assistance related to implementing the ECHO component in the framework of the Project is provided by the Weitzman Institute (Connecticut, Colorado USA). WI hosts on its official web site (www.weitzmaninstitute.org) the materials on completed sessions where all of the distance learning participants have access to the materials.

According to the 2018 report 16 ECHO sessions were organized in the course of which external experts discussed with the participants different aspects of managing patients with HIV infection, TB, vital hepatitis, and drug abuse issues, e.g., diagnosing and prevention & treatment, which includes provision of opioid addiction therapy (OAT). Online sessions are combination of lectures and multipoint videoconferencing to discuss specific medical cases which also allows the participants to share in the best practices.

Last year almost 80 medical doctors and nurses from 15 primary care clinics participated in the videoconferences; these medical professionals represent 7 cities in Ukraine: Dnipro, Kramatorsk, Cherkasy, Mykolaiv, Kryvyi Rih, Zhytomyr, and Kropyvnytskyi.

In 2019 the Project is going to see ECHO learning being extended and scaled up, i.e., ECHO plans to engage more new participants also more time is going to be devoted to discussing complicated medical cases encountered daily by the primary care staff.