Using Project ECHO and Patient Navigation to Improve the Health and Wellness of Cancer Survivors in Rural Communities

Project ECHO and Patient Navigation Model
Program Site; Expert Hub Team; Health Care Provider Team; Patient Navigators; and Cancer Survivors

Each site worked to engage both Project ECHO (depicted as the expert hub team working with health care provider teams in rural communities) and patient navigators to improve the health and wellness of cancer survivors in rural communities.

Rural populations in the United States face higher cancer death rates than urban populations, despite lower overall cancer incidence.1 CDC conducted a pilot study to reduce health inequities experienced by rural cancer survivors. Four National Comprehensive Cancer Control Program (NCCCP) sites in Kansas, Montana, Nevada, and South Carolina were funded to implement Project ECHO’s telementoring platform and engage patient navigators to enhance care for cancer survivors in rural communities.

Project ECHO

Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) uses telementoring within communities of practice to increase workforce capacity and enhance the knowledge and skills of rural health care providers (HCPs). Staff at NCCCP sites collaborated with various partners to—

  • Conduct telementoring sessions with HCP teams.
  • Plan and host ECHO sessions for health care teams, including physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, patient navigators, and social workers serving rural areas, to—
    • Provide education on the needs and issues faced by rural cancer survivors.
    • Improve and increase medical and social support services provided to rural cancer survivors.

Patient Navigation

Cancer patient navigation aims to remove barriers to health and mental health care. Staff at NCCCP sites collaborated with rural clinics to—

  • Identify cancer survivors.
  • Link HCPs and cancer survivors to state and local resources.
  • Partner with a rural federally qualified health center to connect cancer survivors with patient navigators.
  • Help patient navigators refer cancer survivors to wellness programs.

Project Achievements

Project ECHO
Project ECHO

ECHO sessions were delivered.


of ECHO session participants said they intended to apply what they learned during the sessions.


participants attended ECHO sessions.


of participants said they learned something during the sessions.

Patient Navigation

patient navigators were trained to serve cancer survivors in rural areas.


survivors were helped by patient navigators.

Photo of patient navigator taking notes with a patient


1Henley SJ, Anderson RN, Thomas CC, Massetti GM, Peaker B, Richardson LC. Invasive cancer incidence, 2004–2013, and deaths, 2006– 2015, in nonmetropolitan and metropolitan counties—United States. MMWR Surveillance Summaries 2017;66(14):1–13.

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