Getting Primary Care Physicians Comfortable with Managing Hepatitis C


Hepatitis C diagnoses are rarely made by a specialist, said Norman Sussman, MD. He explained how the telehealth program, Project ECHO, can help primary care physicians better manage patients with the virus at the American College of Physicians Internal Medicine Meeting (ACP 2017) in San Diego, California.

Hepatitis C diagnoses are rarely made by a specialist, Norman Sussman, MD, associate professor of surgery at Baylor College of Medicine and director of Project ECHO at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Houston, Texas told MD Magazine.

Sussman explained the importance of keeping primary care physicians up to speed on the virus and which patients need to be screened. During an interview at the American College of Physicians Internal Medicine Meeting (ACP 2017) in San Diego, California, Sussman spoke about the role of these physicians when it comes to hepatitis C and a helpful tool they can turn to.

“Project ECHO stands for Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes. We’re very interested in teaching primary care providers to assess and manage these patients,” Sussman said.

The telehealth program provides physicians with a template of what to look for in patients. Over videoconference, physicians throughout Texas present a patient’s case to Sussman and the associate director and they provide feedback on a course of treatment. Sometimes even a panel of other liver experts are also available.

Project ECHO is not a Texas exclusive. The initiative was launched in the University of New Mexico’s Health Sciences Center in 2003 as a way to help doctors practicing in rural, underserved populations. The program has branched out to the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), University of Nevada, Reno, and University of Washington, to name a few.

The primary care physicians also have a chance to interact with one another on video to build a community and share experiences. “It’s sort of like Facebook for providers,” Sussman said.

>>> More Coverage from ACP 2017

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