The Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care ECHO Program connects dementia care experts with health care teams from primary care practices in a free continuing education series of interactive, case-based video conferencing sessions. The program enables primary care providers to better understand Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia and emphasizes high-quality, person-centered care in community-based settings.

This is part of the Alzheimer’s Association commitment to contributing to a dramatic increase in the accurate and timely diagnosis of people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, and significantly increasing the number of people who receive affordable, high-quality care and support.

How it works

Primary care practitioners who want to increase their ability to diagnose and care for patients with Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia sign up for a free six-month telementoring program with expert multidisciplinary specialist teams.

Each biweekly call includes instruction on a particular aspect of dementia and Alzheimer's care, followed by case discussion. This design helps participants to learn from one another as well as the subject matter experts.

"The case studies and discussion that followed gave us great insight, inspired us with new solutions and reinforced our belief that cognitive assessment should be treated as a vital sign."

ECHO participant
 

During the discussion, participants share a de-identified case related to the day's topic and get advice from experts and peers on issues such as diagnosis, patient education and communication, case management and working with the patient's care partners. The variety of healthcare disciplines and backgrounds among the participants enriches these discussions and helps to provide a diverse range of perspectives, considerations and advice. 

During this six-month program, primary care providers gain knowledge, confidence and access to specialty consultation so that they can deliver excellent dementia care to patients in their own communities.

Benefits of participation include:

  • Case-based learning so that all participants teach and learn
  • Brief didactic presentations from experts in the field
  • Video conferencing for ease of access and to foster interactive learning

Project ECHO aims to improve health outcomes while reducing geographic barriers and the cost of care through a team-based approach. This series from the Alzheimer’s Association is one of the first in the country focused on improving access to an accurate and timely diagnosis and receiving quality dementia care in the primary care setting. The topics for this primary care series are based on Alzheimer’s Association dementia care guidance for health care professionals.

Alzheimer's and dementia care topics included

  • Diseases causing dementia 
  • Providing person-centered dementia care: integration of family and caregivers 
  • Signs and symptoms of cognitive impairment and cognitive assessment tools
  • Evaluation and diagnosis of dementia in the primary care office 
  • Communication of dementia findings to patients and caregivers 
  • Routine care planning 
  • Referral and specialty testing 
  • Dementia care management: addressing role and needs of informal caregivers
  • Dementia care management: cognition and comorbidities 
  • Dementia care management: behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) 
  • Advanced care planning for people living with dementia
  • Coordination of dementia care and transitions of care

Who can participate

Participants must be primary care providers. We encourage the entire primary care care team to participate. Past participant teams have included nurses, physician assistants, social workers and psychologists as well as physicians and nurse practitioners. 

International participants, as long as they are primary care providers, are welcome.

Continuing education credits

The program offers one contact hour of CME, CNE, or CE credit per session, up to 12 hours. 

Participant reactions and program impact

Participants express high levels of satisfaction with the program. In their program evaluation, 87% of participants expressed increased job satisfaction after participating in ECHO and 68% of respondents strongly agreed that the ECHO program improved the quality of care, with another 27% agreeing. More than nine out of ten (94%) of respondents strongly agreed or agreed that they made changes to the way they cared for patients with dementia as a result of the ECHO program. 

About Project ECHO hubs

Project ECHO uses a hub and spoke model to disseminate knowledge and build capacity around the globe. Expert specialist teams are typically from regional organizations, academic medical centers or other health systems that serve as the hub in replicating the ECHO model, with community practices joining as the spokes. There is no fee to become an ECHO hub but you must become an official partner with the ECHO Institute.

The Alzheimer's Association is committed to increasing the use of Project ECHO for dementia care and in formalizing a global network of ECHO hubs addressing Alzheimer's disease and all other dementia. We partner with the research community, medical professionals, key stakeholders in the dementia care industry, and policy leaders and advocates to:

  • Increase evidence around the use of ECHO in the promotion of best practice in Alzheimer's and other dementia care
  • Accelerate the uptake of evidence into practice
  • Influence funders and policy makers to support ECHO programs for care providers treating people living with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia 


The Alzheimer's Association is here to support you in the development of your ECHO hub. Our ECHO team and regional Health Systems Directors can partner with you as a technical advisor and consultant on:
 

  • Overall program design and planning
  • Curriculum development
  • Target audience and faculty selection
  • Budget and financial planning
Connect with us to learn more.