Specialist Clinical Officer Training Expands Through ECHO Model
In a country with a widely dispersed population, teleconferencing technology is improving access to education and support for health workers in Kenya.
AMPATH Training Manager, Jacqueline Wastephen, together with the dedicated team of Dr. Shamim Ali, Dr. Charity Wambui and Jabes Ochieng (IT) is leading efforts to implement a new telemedicine training model in western Kenya called Project ECHO. This model was created by the University of New Mexico. AMPATH's implementation of ECHO features a “hub” at AMPATH Centre and “spokes” at health facilities in Busia, Kitale, Iten and Turbo. Initial results from a pilot class of 16 students show promise for capacity building among health professionals.
The ECHO platform is being implemented in the curriculum for Advanced Practice Clinical Officers (APCO) at MTRH College of Health Sciences. The unique combination of classroom lectures, clinic rounds, and ECHO online sessions has enabled education from expert presenters on a variety of medical conditions, including HIV/AIDS, diabetes, and mental health. Starting in November 2017, 16 APCO students began using the ECHO platform and have participated in several online sessions to receive expert advice from specialists at Moi University, MTRH and Duke University.
Clinical officers trained through ECHO will graduate with an Advanced Diploma in Chronic Diseases Management, equipped with the capacity to provide evidence based care to more than 85% of ambulatory patients with chronic diseases. The curriculum’s foreword states: “The graduates will eventually prove to be cost effective and accessible providers to all those in need anywhere and most importantly provide the Ministry of Health with manpower so critical to meeting threats even greater than HIV in future.”
Additionally with the ECHO model, clinical officers in rural areas are able to connect with specialists for twice-weekly clinics that involve mentoring and patient case discussions.