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Penn State Project ECHO Current Topics

Penn State Project ECHO currently supports knowledge networks in the following topics:

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Addiction Medicine Fellowship

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Opioid use disorder (OUD) is one of the largest health crises of this generation. While there are a variety of therapies to manage these conditions, treatment has been out of reach for many patients due to the lack of health care professionals trained to treat OUD in rural communities.

Penn State Project ECHO is launching a no-cost, CME-eligible ECHO series focused on training addiction medicine fellows and clinicians working directly with fellows. Although this is the target audience, we value an interdisciplinary approach and welcome any provider interested in these topics! The Addiction Medicine Fellowship ECHO series will provide participants with the best practices in the treatment and care of patients with substance use disorder to improve provider knowledge and confidence.

Sessions will be delivered by an interdisciplinary group of specialists who will provide brief lectures on topics related to substance use disorders and addiction, adult learning strategies and the practice of interprofessional models such as integrating behavioral health into primary care.

In addition to brief lectures, the focus of these sessions will include discussion of de-identified case presentations given by participants to gain confidence and competence in providing specialized care to patients.

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The formal presentation curriculum for the sessions in this program was developed by Penn State Project ECHO’s specialist team, using evidence-based resources to provide thorough guidance on addiction medicine.

Current topics include:

  • Screening and diagnosing substance-use disorders
  • Harm reduction and stigma
  • Behavioral health treatment
  • Co-occurring psychiatric morbidities
  • Office-based addiction treatment
  • Keeping patients in recovery
  • Toxicology screening
  • Strategies to integrate medical with behavioral health
  • Continuum of treatment strategies provided in primary care

Additionally, participants will present de-identified patient cases for discussion by the entire group. All participants are encouraged to contribute actively to case discussions. Recommendations are summarized verbally after each case presentation and forwarded to the health care provider whose case was discussed.

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Addressing Underage Alcohol and Substance Use

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Fewer than 10 percent of adolescents in need of substance abuse treatment receive it. Additionally, a barrier to addressing underage drinking is the lack of appropriate screening, intervention and referral for alcohol use among youth.

Penn State Project ECHO is taking steps to equip primary care providers, pediatricians and school nurses with strategies to address underage drinking through the training and delivery of steps collectively referred to as the screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment (SBIRT) technique.

The Addressing Underage Alcohol and Substance Use ECHO has been made possible through a grant awarded to Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

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The Addressing Underage Alcohol and Substance Use ECHO consists of 10 biweekly, hour-long sessions.

A brief presentation on a topic related to underage drinking and adolescent substance use will be given within the last 15 minutes of each session.

The formal presentation curriculum for the sessions in this program was developed by Penn State Project ECHO’s specialist team. Topics include:

  • Introduction to SBIRT and brief interventions
  • Addressing vulnerability during life transitions
  • Identifying substance abuse in adolescence
  • Adolescent risk factors versus protective factors
  • Adolescent progress of substance use
  • How alcohol affects human biology
  • Referral to psychosocial and medication treatment
  • Beyond alcohol: Substance use prevention
  • Positive development: Building good habits
  • Review of brief interventions

Additionally, pediatricians will present de-identified cases for discussion by the entire group in order to protect patient confidentiality. All participants are encouraged to contribute actively to the case discussions. Recommendations are summarized verbally at the conclusion of each case presentation, and forwarded in writing to the participant whose case was discussed.

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Ehlers-Danlos Syndromes

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Ehlers-Danlos syndromes are a set of clinically and genetically heterogeneous heritable disorders of connective tissue with high disease burden and complex, overlapping comorbidities that are challenging for practitioners to manage.

Primary-care physicians with expertise in treating Ehlers-Danlos are difficult to find, and specialists have long wait lists.

To address this problem, Project ECHO launched the first ECHO sessions in Ehlers-Danlos syndromes in September 2019. The program is a series of 12 ECHO sessions over the course of the year. CME credits are offered to participants.

This is a research-based ECHO with a goal of increasing treatment capacity by addressing research gaps.

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Got Your 6 at Home

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Our nation’s past, present and future have been made thanks to veterans. Their service has made it possible for every American to enjoy the rights and freedoms that are the envy of the world. But, for many veterans, it’s not easy to adjust to life on the homefront. And this can result in tragic outcomes.

Charter Homes & Neighborhoods and Penn State College of Medicine are partnering to ensure veterans receive proper mental health support and can adjust to post-service life. This partnership will address two root causes of veteran mental health issues, by training employers to better serve veteran employees and connecting veterans and their families to the vital resources they need.

This case-based series covers topics related to improving veterans’ cognitive, behavioral and emotional health. On the front lines, veterans had our nation’s six (our back). Now it’s time we honor their service and have their six to ensure they can come home and thrive in post-service life.

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For Families

For Employers

HPV Vaccine Communication

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The HPV Vaccine Communication ECHO is for pediatricians and family medicine providers who are interested in increasing HPV vaccination rates in their clinics. This six-session ECHO series provides health care providers training on communication best practices and evidence-based strategies for improving HPV vaccination among adolescents, especially those with vaccine-hesitant parents. Its goal is to reduce HPV-related cancers and diseases in Pennsylvania.

Sessions will be delivered by a group of HPV vaccine specialists, including experienced health care providers and health communication experts. Sessions include short didactic presentations and case presentations, so participants gain confidence and competence in recommending HPV vaccination and communicating to families the importance of HPV vaccination.

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Curriculum Expand answer

The HPV Vaccine Communication ECHO consists of six one-hour sessions; free continuing education credits will be provided to attendees.

Each session will begin with participant introductions, followed by a brief presentation on a topic related to patient and family communication strategies for increasing HPV vaccination.

The formal presentation curriculum for the sessions in this program was developed by Penn State Project ECHO’s specialist team, using evidence-based resources, to provide a thorough introduction to HPV vaccine communication best practices.

Topics include:

  • Evidence for HPV vaccination
  • Cancer prevention through HPV vaccination
  • Making strong recommendations for HPV vaccination
  • Communicating with vaccine-hesitant parents
  • Answering parent questions and concerns about HPV vaccination (Part 1 and Part 2)
  • Practice-level interventions for HPV vaccination
  • Team-based communication approaches

Additionally, participants will present de-identified cases for discussion by the entire group. All participants are encouraged to contribute actively to case discussions. Recommendations are summarized verbally after each case presentation, and forwarded in writing to the health care provider whose case was discussed.

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Kidney Health for the Non-Nephrologist

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According to the CDC, kidney diseases are the ninth leading cause of death in the United States and affect an estimated 37 million people. The Kidney Health for the Non-Nephrologist ECHO series seeks to connect community physicians with a team of nephrology specialists to promote education and awareness among the primary care medical community.

Penn State Project ECHO is launching a no-cost CME-eligible ECHO series designed to equip primary care providers with the best practices in the treatment and care of kidney health to improve the management of patients with kidney disease. Providing a reliable system to enhance patient care and address the barriers related to specialist care for kidney disease is a critical health care need. Sessions will be delivered by an interdisciplinary group of specialists who will provide brief lectures on topics related to kidney health.

In addition to brief lectures, the main focus of these sessions will include discussion of de-identified case presentations given by participants to gain confidence and competence in providing specialized care to patients.

Register for this series

Curriculum Expand answer

The formal presentation curriculum for the sessions in this program was developed by Penn State Project ECHO’s specialist team, using evidence-based resources to provide thorough guidance on addiction medicine.

Current topics include:

  • When is renal replacement therapy indicated on an outpatient basis?
  • Dialysis access
  • Peritoneal dialysis
  • Pre-kidney-transplant evaluation
  • Post-kidney transplant
  • Nephrologists’ and primary care providers’ management of end-stage renal disease
  • Diet in end-stage renal disease
  • Secondary hyperparathyroidism
  • Medication management (ACE/ARB) in advanced chronic kidney disease (CKD)
  • Goals of care/medical management where dialysis is contraindicated or refused
  • Uncontrolled hypertension
  • Outpatient management of acute kidney injury (AKI) or subacute kidney injury

Additionally, participants will present de-identified patient cases for discussion by the entire group. All participants are encouraged to contribute actively to case discussions. Recommendations are summarized verbally after each case presentation and forwarded to the health care provider whose case was discussed.

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Managing Gut Health

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Gut health is vital to physical and mental health, immunity and more. This series seeks to train primary care providers, nurse practitioners, certified registered nurse practitioners and physician assistants on diagnosis and treatment of digestive diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease, colitis and exocrine pancreatic insufficiency.

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Current topics include:

  • Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI)
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome-Diarrhea (IBS-D)
  • Gluten Sensitivity and Celiac Disease
  • Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
  • Microscopic Colitis
  • Post-surgical Altered Bowel Movements

Additionally, participants will present de-identified patient cases for discussion by the entire group. All participants are encouraged to contribute actively to case discussions. Recommendations are summarized verbally after each case presentation and forwarded to the health care provider whose case was discussed.

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Medication for Opioid Use Disorder

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The Medication for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD) ECHO, in partnership with the RASE Project, has been made possible through a grant awarded to Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Health care providers face many barriers when treating opioid use disorder and implementing medication-assisted treatment (MAT). Many providers do not feel confident or skilled in utilizing MAT to treat patients with opioid use disorder. This series may provide the needed knowledge and confidence to improve patient care.

Participation is free and is open to all health care providers in Pennsylvania.

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Curriculum Expand answer

These ECHO sessions occur every other week, with 12 sessions in total. Each session begins with participant introductions, followed by a brief presentation on a topic related to the care of patients with opioid use disorder.

The formal presentation curriculum for the sessions in this program was developed by Penn State Project ECHO’s specialist team to provide a thorough introduction to treatment and care. Topics include:

  • Introduction to opioid use disorder
  • Risk reduction and safe use of opioids
  • Medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder
  • Peer recovery support services
  • Evidence-based screening and SBIRT (screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment)
  • Introduction to motivational interviewing
  • ACEs and addiction
  • Office management of opioid use disorder (Part 1 and Part 2)
  • Co-occurring physical and mental health
  • Management of pain in patients with opioid use disorder
  • Pregnancy and care of adolescents

Additionally, community providers present de-identified patient cases for discussion by the entire group in order to protect patient confidentiality. All participants are encouraged to contribute actively to the case discussions. Recommendations are summarized verbally at the conclusion of each case presentation, and forwarded in writing to the health care provider whose case was discussed.

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Neonatal Care

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Since the 1960s, the age of viability in newborns has decreased by a week for each decade. This has resulted in an explosion of research, innovation and quality improvement that has revolutionized obstetrics and neonatal-perinatal medicine. Those in the field are learning something new every day.

Penn State Project ECHO is launching a no-cost, CME-eligible ECHO series for all providers who care for mothers of neonates or high-risk newborns. The Neonatal Care ECHO series will have six one-hour sessions and will provide participants with the most up-to-date and evidence-based care to improve health outcomes for neonates and high-risk newborns. Sessions will be delivered by an interdisciplinary group of specialists who will provide brief lectures on topics related to neonatal care.

In addition to brief lectures, the main focus of these sessions will include discussion of de-identified case presentations given by participants to gain confidence and competence in providing specialized care to patients.

Curriculum Expand answer

The Neonatal Care ECHO series includes six one-hour sessions in total; free continuing medical education credits will be provided to attendees.

The formal presentation curriculum for the sessions in this program was developed by Penn State Project ECHO’s specialist team, using evidence-based resources to provide thorough guidance on caring for neonates and high-risk newborns. Topics include:

  • Care of the hypoglycemic newborn
  • Safe sleep
  • Developmental support in the NICU and beyond
  • Nutrition preterm and on discharge

Additionally, participants will present de-identified patient cases for discussion by the entire group. All participants are encouraged to contribute actively to case discussions. Recommendations are summarized verbally after each case presentation and forwarded to the health care provider whose case was discussed.

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Pennsylvania AHEC Community Health Workers

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Community health workers (CHW) are integral in linking communities to health care and public health resources. Research has shown CHWs can reduce health disparities, expand access to coverage and care, improve care quality, increase health care cultural competence, and contain costs.

This ECHO series seeks to train CHWs in an effort to strengthen Pennsylvania’s public health infrastructure and improve community health outcomes, particularly for subpopulations that have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Pennsylvania AHEC Community Health Worker series launched on October 20, 2021, from 9 to 10 a.m. There will be a total of twelve, monthly 1-hour sessions.

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Project Reassure: Adult Neurodiversity

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The Project Reassure: Adult Neurodiversity ECHO is designed for providers from agencies serving adults with autism.

This series addresses issues and behavioral strategies for these conditions and also includes brief lectures covering topics of interest to the ECHO group, such as clinical features of ASD, managing common co-occurring conditions and promoting self-advocacy.

In addition, the main thrust of the sessions will come from participants who will present de-identified cases to each other and the specialist team in order to gain confidence and competence in providing direct supports to adults with ASD.

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Curriculum Expand answer

These ECHO sessions occur every other week, with 12 sessions in total. Each one-hour session begins with participant introductions, followed by a brief presentation on a topic related to the care of adults with autism spectrum disorder.

The formal presentation curriculum for the sessions in this program was developed by Penn State Project ECHO’s specialist team to provide a thorough introduction to treatment and care. Topics include:

  • Clinical features of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in adults (Part A)
  • Clinical features of ASD in adults (Part B)
  • Co-occurring physical conditions
  • Co-occurring mental health conditions
  • Behaviors
  • Managing behaviors
  • Promoting activities of daily living
  • Identifying individual and family supports
  • Promoting healthy relationships (Part A)
  • Promoting healthy relationships (Part B)
  • Barriers to community participation
  • Promoting self-advocacy

Additionally, agency participants present de-identified patient cases for discussion by the entire group in order to protect patient confidentiality. All participants are encouraged to contribute actively to the case discussions. Recommendations are summarized verbally at the conclusion of each case presentation, and forwarded in writing to the health care provider whose case was discussed.

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Upcoming Project ECHO Events and Training