‘You need a whole team’: How a virtual mentoring program has helped bring care closer to rural patients

By the time Sanjeev Arora’s patient had trekked the 200 miles to his office to treat the illness destroying her liver, it was too late. What had kept her away before — a long waiting list and monthly travel for the intensive hepatitis C treatment she needed — was now no match for the deep belly pain that had begun to interfere with her day job. But the disease had progressed too far, and the woman passed away months later.

“I asked myself, ‘Why did she have to die when all the medications are available, the testing is available, and here I am with the knowledge to treat it?’” said Arora, a practicing internal physician at the University of New Mexico and the founder of a provider training program called Project ECHO that aims to equip rural caregivers with specialty expertise.

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