With a rapidly aging population, many primary care providers increasingly find themselves caring for older patients. However, older patients often have specialized care needs. And some PCPs have little or no training in geriatrics.
To help remedy this situation, the UNC Center for Aging and Health and the Division of Geriatric Medicine created a monthly Project ECHO series. Developed by the CGWEP (Carolina Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program), UNC Geriatrics for Primary Care Providers ECHO Series is open to all providers. The CGWEP created this series in response to primary care providers’ desire for better information on caring for geriatric patients.
This ECHO series’ main goal is facilitating conversations on geriatric care. With discussions led by experts from the UNC Division of Geriatric Medicine, each one-hour session covers a designated topic. Beginning with a 15-minute didactic session, participants then discuss cases submitted by the primary care community. These learner-submitted cases are the heart of the Project ECHO model. In general, they reflect the needs and interests of the participants.
The first three sessions, Dementia Screening, Dementia Diagnosis, and Dementia Treatment took place in July, August, and September respectively. Other sessions in the series will cover Frailty and Falls, Polypharmacy, and Levels of Care.
A Sampling of Cases
So far, learners have submitted quality cases leading to positive outcomes. In one session, a tool provided by one of our geriatricians caused a second provider to recognize significant cognitive impairment in a recently seen patient. After becoming concerned about the patient driving herself to appointments, the provider made a neurology referral. Feeling empowered by what she learned in the previous dementia ECHO session, the provider also made a report to the DMV.
In another session, a provider presented a case about a hospice patient’s missing controlled substance pain management prescription. This provider discovered that a significant amount of medication was missing the day after it was supposedly picked up. As result, there was confusion around whether or not the caregiver or another family member had picked up the medication. As a first step, the provider confirmed that a family member retrieved the prescription from the pharmacy. In the session, the provider questioned whether to file a police report. UNC PharmD, Josh Niznik stated that if an emergency refill was needed, the pharmacy would prefer a police report of the suspected theft. Dr. Mallory McClester-Brown also shared that medication theft is considered Elder Abuse.
Remaining Sessions and Topics
Joining this ECHO series is completely free. Learners need only register once for the entire series then sign in on session day. Also, learners may attend one or all the sessions. All sessions take place from 12:15 pm – 1:15 pm on the given date. Below are the remaining session topics and dates:
- Frailty and Falls: Thursday October 20, 2022 & Friday, October 21, 2022
- Polypharmacy: Thursday November 17, 2022 & Friday, November 18, 2022
- Levels of Care: Thursday December 15, 2022 & Friday, December 16, 2022
Register and Submit Case Studies
In addition to the monthly sessions, there is also a private LinkedIn CGWEP ECHO group. The CGWEP created this group to encourage interactions between learners, build community, share information, and answer questions.