Special Projects Fund



Funding Area

Special Projects Fund


November 18, 2020


In rural areas of New York, primary care physicians must serve as specialty care providers because of shortages in physician supply.

Originated at the University of New Mexico in 2003, Project ECHO increases access to specialty treatment for patients in rural and underserved areas by providing frontline physicians with the knowledge and support they need to manage patients with complex conditions. Unlike the typical telemedicine service model, which directly links providers to patients, the Project ECHO model connects providers to other providers using Web-based videoconferencing to create virtual grand rounds. The model engages physicians at “spoke” sites (e.g., sites in rural areas) in a continuous learning system and virtually partners them with an interdisciplinary team of specialist mentors (e.g., psychiatry, nursing, social work, psychology, pharmacy) at an academic medical center, known as a “hub.” The model responds to an urgent need for better access to care in underserved regions, where unmet health needs contribute to diminished health and life outcomes.

NYHealth funding helped establish the first Project ECHO clinic in New York State in 2014—since then, the model has experienced unprecedented growth and gained many partners along the way. This issue brief explores outcomes and lessons learned from a series of grants that NYHealth awarded to support Project ECHO’s expansion throughout the State.

Co-Funding and Additional Funds Leveraged: Collectively, this project has leveraged more than $23 million for the Project ECHO model in New York State.

2014: Health Foundation for Western & Central New York ($50,000).

2016: New York State Department of Health ($850,000); New York State Department of Health/St. James Mercy Hospital ($510,000); GE Foundation ($55,000 in co-funding and $16 million to establish ECHO sites nationwide).

2017: Greater Rochester Health Foundation ($850,000); Ira Davenport Memorial Hospital ($27,400); Finger Lakes Performing Provider System ($961,113); Health Foundation for Western & Central New York ($25,000); University of Rochester Medical Center ($25,000); New York State Office of Mental Health ($352,544).

2018: Health Resources & Services Administration ($2.5 million).