The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), part of HHS, is partnering with the University of New Mexico’s ECHO Institute in Albuquerque and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) in Boston to establish the network, which will provide free training and mentorship to nursing homes across the U.S. The project ECHO, or Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes, includes more than 250 training partners across the country; its initial establishment and evaluation was funded by AHRQ starting in 2004.
The network is being created through an AHRQ contract worth up to $237 million, part of the almost $5 billion Provider Relief Fund authorized earlier this year under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The ECHO Institute is recruiting large health centers and academic medical centers across the U.S. to serve as training hubs, and nursing homes certified to participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs will be able to take part in a 16-week training program, with a standardized curriculum developed by IHI. The curriculum will be refined as the pandemic situation changes but some of the topics for the early weeks will include:
- Best practices in the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) for COVID-19
- Minimizing COVID-19 spread
- Clinical management of asymptomatic and mild cases
“The ECHO model is a proven approach that brings experts and providers together to learn and solve clinical and operational challenges,” said Mark Parkinson, the president and CEO of AHCA. “We strongly encourage providers to participate in the COVID Action Network to get access to experts and learn the latest best practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19”. Stay the course, stay swell, mask up, get vaccinated, and stay tuned!