Monday, 6 June 2011
An excellent post from Mary Abrahams describes Project ECHO - an approach to spreading knowledge of specialist healthcare through learning networks and virtual case presentations (rather like virtual peer assists). Here specialist clinicians work virtually with health-care workers in rural or prison settings, sharing their knowledge of, and best practices for, treatment for Hepatitis C.
You have to dig into the literature a bit to find the success measures but project ECHO delivered rates of successful treatement of the HCV infection comparable to those at a University clinic, (58.2 percent vs. 57.5 percent), and significantly greater than the 20% to 34% success rate previously delivered in similar settings. And the only factor that can explain the difference between 20% /34% and 58%, is added knowledge.
If we assume that ECHO improves the results for 28500 people (the story mentions 30,000 Mexicans with HCV, of which 95% do not have access to specialist treatment), then this improved treatment rate represents between 6840 to 10830 people cured thanks to ECHO, than would otherwise be the case. I don't know if every successful treatment represents a life saved, but if it does, thats a lot of lives saved through managed knowledge transfer and re-use.