Improving the Delivery of Musculoskeletal Education in Primary Care Using the Innovative Echo (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) Technology

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Abstract

Background: Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (ECHO) is a programme that employs videoconferencing technology to train community-based primary care providers to improve and standardize care across a wide geographical region. This method has not yet been trialled in the UK for improving the capacity of
primary care services in managing common musculoskeletal (MSK) complaints.

Aim: The aim was to assess the impact of introducing a year-long MSK ECHO education programme in Northern
Ireland for general practitioners (GPs).

Design and setting: Monthly sessions were held consisting of teaching and case based discussions. Each
session lasted on average 90 minutes. A ‘hub’ consisting of local GP lead educators, supported by colleagues from
secondary care, where linked to GPs around Belfast using video conferencing technology.

Methods: Topics covered were chosen by participants at the start and covered common MSK complaints in
primary care. An initial questionnaire was performed at the start and compared to an evaluation questionnaire at the
end.

Results: Ten GPs completed the evaluation one year after the project was initiated. The weighted average of the
self-confidence scores in examining a range of individual body parts in general practice increased from a baseline of
3.45 to 4.08. There was an increase in self-assessed ability in diagnosing and treating a number of common MSK
complaints and the whole year-long programme was delivered for £ 14,980.

Conclusion: This trial shows how a 12-month ECHO intervention can improve self-efficacy in a number of MSK
capacities within GP. These preliminary results suggest that ECHO is an affordable, effective solution for providing
postgraduate education to working GPs.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Publication statusPublished - 10 Feb 2020

Keywords

  • Musculoskeletal education
  • GP
  • Primary care
  • ECHO technology

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