US telemedicine project trials in Ireland

Consultants and GPs in Ireland are to participate in three pilot care delivery projects based on a US telemedicine initiative called Project ECHO. It is estimated that replication of the project in Ireland could deliver an estimated €20 million in healthcare savings.

The way ECHO works is by providing primary care providers such as GPs with training in medical conditions that would otherwise be treatable only by specialists. This is done through a model of ‘guided practice’ and mentoring using video-conferencing technology.

Initially, the pilot will focus on rheumatology conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. It is understood that 20 GPs nationwide will be trained under the pilot.  The aim is to reduce consultant waiting times and allow patients to be diverted from hospital services to be managed in the community.  Heads up thanks to fellow TTA and TANN England Contributing Editor, Chrys Meewella for this! 

Read more: Ireland becomes EU hub for new healthcare project (Irish Medical News) / US telehealth projects for Ireland (Irish Medical Times)

Note: I’ve referred to the ECHO project as ‘telemedicine’ rather than as ‘telehealth’ – which it is referred to as throughout the IMT article. For further information regarding the debate around telecare, telemedicine and telehealth, see TTA’s What is Telecare? section.

About Toni Bunting

Toni joined Ireland’s longest established telecare company, TASK Community Care in 2009, and is responsible for operations and business development in its Northern Ireland division. Having originally planned for a career in the legal profession, she gained her Bachelor of Laws degree in 2004, and subsequently completed the Legal Practice Course at the College of Law of England and Wales. Toni also holds a Master’s Degree in Management & Corporate Governance and has carried out various legal research/publications work for the Law Centre (NI) on a voluntary basis, with a focus on Community Care Law.
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