Project ECHO is an innovative tele-mentoring programme designed to create virtual communities of learners by bringing together health care providers and subject matter experts using videoconference technology, brief lecture presentations, case-based learning, fostering an ‘all teach, all learn’ approach. In April 2020 a six-month pilot of Project ECHO was commenced to support end-of -life care education in primary care as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A scoping exercise was undertaken with the multidisciplinary primary care team across a defined geographical area. Following the scoping exercise a curriculum was devised. Speakers were arranged which included a palliative care medical consultant, a specialist pharmacist and speciality doctor who led the taught aspects of each of the six sessions drawing on their clinical expertise and previous teaching experience. The attendees had the opportunity to submit a case study for discussion during each ECHO session, the case studies were used to evoke discussion, promote shared learning and develop a community of practice. During the pandemic this format also created an opportunity for peer supervision and sharing of clinical knowledge and experience across a wider network of practitioners.
Considering the project took place during a pandemic there was 83% attendance from those that had booked onto the sessions. At the end of each session an instant poll was available to be completed by the attendees to evaluate the session. Attendees fed-back how valuable they found the sessions especially the opportunity to discuss case studies, share best practice and debrief during what has been a particularly difficult time for the primary care sector. The online format allowed more people to attend than would normally be achieved in face-to-face training. Due to the project’s success further funding was agreed to extend the project beyond the original six-month pilot.
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