House Passes ECHO Act, Bill Headed to the President’s Desk

On Tuesday, December 6th, the House voted by voice vote to pass the HIMSS-supported “Enhancing Capacity for Health Outcomes (ECHO) Act.” The House vote came  a week after the Senate also voted unanimously to pass the bill, which now advances to the President to be signed into the law.  The bill requires the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study the use of technology-enabled collaborative learning and capacity building models to improve healthcare delivery. The ECHO Act takes a critical step toward expanding access to high-quality healthcare for patients, especially those living in rural and underserved areas.

Following the passage of the bill, Representatives Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Michael Burgess M.D. (R-TX), who jointly introduced the House counterpart to the ECHO Act in June, praised the bill’s passage in a statement. “Technology gives us the ability to connect our healthcare system in ways we never have been able to before,” stated Rep. Matsui. Rep. Burgess further highlighted that “The legislation will take the necessary steps to strengthen the collaboration between specialty care doctors and primary care doctors to help them better serve their communities. The most efficient and effective way to ensure widespread access to care is by harnessing models that have proven successful during implementation on a smaller scale, like that of Project ECHO.”

Earlier this year, HIMSS expressed support for the ECHO Act as a step forward in developing the Learning Health System.