A telementoring program designed to address the burden of specialist care for pediatric primary care providers–due to the shortage of pediatric specialists–successfully increased providers’ confidence in diagnosing and treating pediatric dermatology, according to a Research in Brief article published in Pediatric Dermatology.

Pediatric primary care providers self-selected to register in Project Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (ECHO), a twice-monthly 1-hour Zoom session held from January to March 2021, consisting of a 15-minute lecture by a pediatric dermatologist on diagnostic criteria and updated treatment guidelines for specific dermatology topics, followed by a discussion of participant-submitted cases. Participants completed pre- and post-surveys self-assessing their comfort in diagnosing and treating pediatric dermatology disorders. The post-program survey also asked about program feedback and interest in participating in similar programs in the future.

There were 25 participants who registered for the pediatric dermatology Project ECHO, 20 of whom attended at least 1 session. Physicians comprised 54.5% of participants and 40.9% were advanced practice providers. Most (84%) specialized in pediatrics or family medicine and 90.5% practiced in an urban setting.


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The pre-program survey response rate was 100% and the post-program response rate was 50%. Of the pre-program survey respondents, 87.5% felt Project ECHO was an effective way of assessing specialist expertise, and none rated their confidence as high in any dermatology competency area. Post-Project ECHO, all survey respondents reported high confidence in 19 of 26 competencies, and providers’ overall level of comfort with competencies increased as well. Of the 10 post-program survey respondents, 100% were strongly satisfied with the program, 100% would recommend the program to a colleague, and 100% rated the teams’ expertise as excellent.

The study was limited by relying on participants’ self-assessment of knowledge and skill instead of a more objective measure, and that participants did not receive a third survey to investigate Project ECHO’s long-term durability.

Based on their findings, the study authors concluded that “Project ECHO programs should be applied in future to empower general providers with the knowledge to accurately diagnose and treat in underserved areas.”

Reference

Sun H, Green B, Zaenglein A, Butt M, Kirby JS, Flamm A. Efficacy of pediatric dermatology Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (ECHO) sessions on augmenting primary care providers’ confidence and abilities. Pediatr Dermatol. Published online December 31, 2021. doi:10.1111/ pde.14907