Recruit and Educate Health Care Providers and Patients

Key to Success 3 of Public Health Strategies to Help People with Cancer in Rural Communities

Pilot sites engaged providers who could explain the value of ECHO and patient navigation for people with cancer.

Successful implementation of Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) and patient navigation programs depends on the engagement of health care practices and professionals. Pilot sites such as the Kansas Department of Health and Environment recruited health care providers through established networks. They also engaged providers who could explain the value of ECHO and patient navigation for supporting people with cancer.

“It was me reaching out to a manager at the Office of Primary Care and Rural Health and asking if she would be willing to spread the word about our ECHO schedule and share the flier that we developed [through her networks]. And she said she would do those things.” [Kansas]

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control focused on direct outreach to clinical staff and other intended audiences and ensured that recruitment messages included a clear purpose that would resonate with the clinical staff.

“Within our own Cancer Division, having staff with years of clinical and public health knowledge and expertise has been beneficial in reviewing and improving our communication efforts.” [South Carolina]

Communication Strategies for Recruitment

  • Direct emails.
  • Fliers.
  • Telephone calls.
  • Virtual one-on-one meetings.
  • Newsletters.
  • Text messages.
  • Indirect recruitment through colleagues.
  • Internal and external information sessions.

Insights from Pilot Sites

  • Focus recruitment efforts on the intended providers or patients.
  • Engage clinic staff familiar with clinical workflows to support recruitment efforts.
  • Provide incentives for participation in ECHO sessions, such as continuing education credits.
  • Use consistent graphics, branding, and design elements in promotion materials.
  • Use frequent and varied communication strategies. Conduct individual outreach when needed.
  • Be flexible in recruitment activities. Some communications may need to occur before and after standard business hours.

Tips for Delivering ECHO Sessions

Promote the ECHO session schedule and topics with health care providers in advance. Share the ECHO session’s goals, meeting schedule, and options for participation. Communications should include clear instructions for joining and participating in the session and contact information for users who need tech support.

Assign staff roles such as meeting host, technical co-host, and moderator. Make sure you have enough staff and expertise to run your sessions smoothly. Consider having a meeting moderator (who is not a presenter or leader) to manage housekeeping tasks, monitor questions from participants, and troubleshoot technical issues.

Conduct a test run of the technology. Before the first ECHO session, test your meeting platform and technology. Be prepared to troubleshoot and respond to participants’ technology issues during sessions.

Develop rapport and foster engagement among participants. Participating in virtual sessions can feel strange for many participants. Consider ways to make participants feel comfortable engaging with you and each other through outreach before the sessions, such as icebreakers and poll questions.

Follow up to address unanswered questions. After the ECHO session, find and share answers to questions that were not addressed during the session. Consider sharing a list of questions and answers addressed during and after the session with all who attended, if appropriate.

More Keys to Success for Improving Care for People with Cancer in Rural Areas