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President Obama Signs Schatz-Hatch Tele-Training Bill Into Law

Bipartisan Law Will Improve Health Care in Rural Areas

HONOLULU - President Barack Obama signed into law the Expanding Capacity for Health Outcomes (ECHO) Act, a bipartisan bill introduced by U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). This law will increase access to high-quality health care in hard-to-reach regions.

“Technology has the potential to transform the way we train doctors and deliver health care,” said Senator Schatz. “This law will help connect primary care providers in underserved areas with specialists at academic hubs, making it easier for medical professionals to access the continuing education they need to provide high-quality health care to more people.”

Although nearly one-fourth of the population lives in rural areas, only about 10 percent of physicians practice in these hard-to-reach regions. People living in rural areas have higher rates of some chronic diseases and many face high transportation costs when they need to visit a doctor.

The ECHO model is an innovative continuing medical education program that uses interactive videoconferencing to link specialist teams with primary care providers in rural and underserved areas. Together, they participate in weekly tele-clinics that combine teaching with mentoring and case-based learning. The ECHO Act aims to better integrate this model into health systems across the country, improving training for doctors and health care quality for patients. 

To learn more about the ECHO Act, click here.