Project ECHO Blogger Roundtable with Sanjeev Arora, MD – Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health

A doctor’s first blogger roundtable is a very special thing :). It was actually my second, too. It happened because Sanjeev Arora, MD , the Director of Project Echo was going to be in Washington, DC, and I wanted to give him a tour of the Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health ( @kptotalhealth ). With the help of Burness Communications and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, we turned the tour into said roundtable.

I think this is a really good format and method for a leader/innovator to connect with a modern, inquisitive audience, that read a lot and write a lot.

Sanjeev, in this setting, was able to go deeper into what Project ECHO is and the environment in which it thrives. Because it is not telehealth as currently defined (there is no patient on either end of the camera), it dramatically multiplies, to a scale of 10 or greater, the effectiveness of physicians caring for patients with complex chronic conditions. Sanjeev also talked in depth about the incentive structures of practices that make ECHO attractive or unattractive.

What really stuck out for me, this time, are the non-financial incentives. When you see the map of New Mexico showing the ECHO sites, you can imagine that these physicians, if they were not a part of ECHO, could experience professional isolation and a flattening of the knowledge acquisition curve over time. I know that this is not a pleasant situation for a physician, even if they don’t acknowledge it to their patients (or themselves). 

Sanjeev said that if this was a knowledge network only, it would not be successful. It really is a “social network for doing important work.” This all tracks back to one of our very first conversations over the phone, when he told me, “This is like Facebook for health care.” Now I get it. Doctors are human beings, they thrive on social interactions that help them be better physicians for their patients, and ECHO provides this for them.

I will support my fellow blog writers in sharing their insights and will link to them as they’re published. In the meantime, I like the format and I am looking forward to more sharing in this place to talk about health….if you are a blog writer and have ideas for a roundtable in an area of health or health care, feel free to post in the comments. 


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Ted Eytan, MD