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WVCTSI expands treatment of chronic pain

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia Clinical and Translational Science Institute has recently expanded its Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (ECHO) program. The newly expanded program adds sessions focusing on the treatment of patients with chronic pain.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, West Virginia continues to have the highest rate of drug overdose deaths along with the third highest opioid prescription rate in the nation. These statistics are both key factors in the opioid epidemic currently devastating the state, and an indication that the way chronic pain patients are treated needs to change.

“ECHO programs are an important strategy to amplify community provider knowledge,” said Sally Hodder, M.D., WVCTSI director. “This program will augment provider knowledge around chronic pain management and is a great example of how WVCTSI is responding to one of the most important issues currently facing our state.”

This collaborative project between WVCTSI, the West Virginia Primary Care Association (WVPCA), and Project ECHO utilizes a hub and spoke knowledge sharing network that connects rural healthcare providers seeking advice on chronic pain cases with experts at West Virginia University. Sessions are held twice a month via videoconference and provide rural healthcare providers an opportunity to present cases and participate in didactics covering a variety of chronic pain topics.

“ECHO is a great example of technology being used to change the way we care for patients,” said Jennifer Boyd, PA-C, director of clinical quality with the WVPCA and ECHO participant. “All clinicians need is an Internet connection and webcam and they expand their knowledge of treatment for the patients they would normally have to refer away. The telementoring expands the knowledge base on a variety of health topics, sharing expertise from specialists to primary care providers throughout the state. ”

The WV Project ECHO program was initiated in May 2016 with the chronic hepatitis C ECHO that seeks to amplify community provider knowledge regarding hepatitis C diagnosis and management. Since the inception of the hepatitis C ECHO program, 15 clinics from West Virginia and Ohio have presented 48 unique hepatitis C cases and participated in 17 educational presentations.

“We’ve had a lot of success with our hepatitis C ECHO,” said Jay Mason, WVCTSI Project ECHO coordinator. “It was through those interactions with ECHO participants that we learned that there was a real desire to expand the WV Project ECHO to include the treatment of chronic pain.”

The ECHO platform, which originated at the University of New Mexico, is currently being used worldwide to address various health needs. In November 2016 the U.S. Senate unanimously passed the ECHO act that authorizes the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to study the Project ECHO model.

The WV Project ECHO Chronic Pain program is still accepting clinics that would like to participate. For more information on how to participate in Project ECHO, please contact Jay Mason at

WVCTSI Background

In August 2012, the WVCTSI was awarded a $19.6 million IDeA Clinical and Translational grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences titled “West Virginia IDeA CTR” [Institutional Development Award for Clinical and Translational Research, 1U54RR033567-02; Hodder (Principal Investigator)] to support WVCTSI’s mission of building clinical and translational research infrastructure and capacity to impact health disparities in West Virginia.

This grant was matched by a $33.5 million commitment from several West Virginia entities to create a total funding of $53.1 million to recruit 24 clinician scientists and provide infrastructure core support in biostatistics, bioinformatics, community engagement and outreach, clinical research education and mentoring, ethical and regulatory knowledge support, and pilot grants to grow clinical and translational research in the state.


im 2/27/17


Ian Moore

West Virginia Clinical and Translational Science Institute