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    Underserved HCV patients benefiting from telemedicine

    Primary care physicians can provide cost-effective treatment for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections to underserved populations, according to a new study.

    Congress passed the ECHO Act in late 2016, requiring the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to investigate the Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (Project ECHO) to enable primary care providers to deliver best-practice care for complex conditions to underserved populations, using telemedicine.

    “We already know that HCV treatment can be cost-effective. Our research adds that ECHO basically enhances the ability of primary care providers to better deliver more care to underserved populations that is cost-effective,” senior author David Hutton, PhD, associate professor of health management and policy at University of Michigan School of Public Health, told Medical Economics.

    Project ECHO has already been shown to increase treatment rates for HCV infection in New Mexico. Also, the ECHO model of telehealth/telementoring has expanded nationally to other conditions, including HIV, substance use disorders, diabetes and endocrinology, chronic pain, tuberculosis, autism and palliative care.

    The researchers published their results online October 23, 2017, in Gastroenterology.

     

    Next: Study details

     

    Mark L. Fuerst
    Staff Correspondent

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