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Sanjeev Arora, MD, Founder, Project ECHO

Sanjeev Arora, MD, is the founder of Project ECHO and the Executive Director of the ECHO Institute. Dr. Arora is a Distinguished Professor of Medicine with tenure in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center. 

Dr. Arora is a pioneer in democratizing specialized medical knowledge for the good of humanity. His idea for Project ECHO was grounded in his personal experience as a liver disease specialist practicing in New Mexico whose patients endured an eight-month wait list for appointments and often drove hundreds of miles per visit. Delayed access to care adversely affected patient outcomes, resulting in unnecessary deaths from curable diseases like hepatitis C (HCV). Patients from New Mexico’s geographically isolated communities suffered transportation, financial, and caregiver burdens, in addition to their health crises. 

Dr. Arora launched Project ECHO at the University of New Mexico in 2003 as a solution for helping all patients receive quality care faster. The ECHO Model works by strengthening the capacity of rural primary care providers to treat complex conditions locally — with ongoing remote support from an interdisciplinary team of experts and a community of peers. Project ECHO used widely available videoconferencing technology to implement a “hub-and-spoke” model for training New Mexico’s community-based clinicians in rural counties, Indian Health Service clinics, and state prisons to treat patients where they live. The ECHO Model has since been used to train providers in more than 70 other disease areas, including cancer, COVID-19, cardiovascular disease and mental health, making significant progress toward reversing health care inequity. 

Today, the ECHO Model is being applied around the globe, with programs in North America, Africa, Latin America, Europe, and Asia and partnerships with the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control. ECHO topics have expanded beyond health care to include K-12 education, climate change, public safety and more. Backed by more than 500 peer-reviewed research articles, ECHO has proven effective across disciplines and geographies as a way to reduce disparities and drive collaborative solutions for local priorities. 

In 2007, Project ECHO won the Ashoka Foundation’s Changemakers Award, an international competition recognizing programs that are changing the paradigm of how medicine is practiced. An inspiring champion and steward of the ECHO Model, Dr. Arora has served as the Director of the ECHO Institute since its establishment. Previously, he served as Executive Vice-Chair and Acting Chair of the Department of Internal Medicine, President of the Medical Staff, and for five years on the Board of the Health Sciences Center at the University of New Mexico. Dr. Arora has also served as President of the University Physicians Association.