Background With ever-increasing demands and focus on value-based healthcare delivery, the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) in Northern Ireland through their publications (‘Systems, not structures: changing health and social care’, Bengoa, Stout, Scott, McAlinden et al., 2016; ‘Health and wellbeing 2026, delivering together’, Department of Health, 2016; ‘Transforming your care: a review of health and social care in Northern Ireland’, Department of Health Social Services & Public Safety, 2011) identified the Project ECHO™ model as vehicle of innovation and a methodology to implement change within its health and social care sector. In 2015 the HSCB piloted five ECHO™ Knowledge networks, rising in 2016 to 19 and then in 2018 to 30.
Project ECHO™ (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) is a tele-mentoring programme that uses video-conferencing technology to share evidence-based knowledge, best practice and education by using case-based learning. The programme management of Project ECHO™ NI is a collaborative partnership between the HSCB and Hospice UK who in 2017 was commissioned to facilitate the delivery up to 30 ECHO™ Networks. The ECHO™ Networks engage with health and social care professionals in a wide variety of areas, e.g. ophthalmology, pharmacy, neurology, palliative care, paediatrics.
Aim To examine the experiences and tools used by the Project Managers to deliver the Project ECHO™ NI programme.
Method The Project Managers developed and implemented the following successful tools: project manager; project plan; Gantt chart; operations manual; ECHO™ network dashboard; clearly defined team roles; weekly operational meetings; 6-monthly team review days.
Weekly operational meetings map and measure the key milestones as agreed by the Project ECHO™ NI Board.
Results The programme management team have established successes and challenges:
Success: staff appointed – sole focus on project with permanent/fixed term contracts; ‘work with the willing’;
Challenges: temporary staff; staff capacity to absorb duties into current role; sustained engagement with professionals.
Conclusions The Project ECHO™ NI programme continues to meet agreed milestones and engage with health and social care professionals in Northern Ireland.
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