Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana awarded a $50,000 grant for a new pilot project in Billings. Public Information Officer John Doran explains what the new project entails.

"Project ECHO is essentially like a virtual medical round where doctors, nurses, clinical specialists and social workers get together in a face to face setting to determine the best course of care for any given medical situation," said Doran. "This is a virtual model of that that brings in local, state and national experts to determine the best course of action or the best course of care."

Doran says project ECHO could greatly improve the way care is delivered in Montana.

"In a rural state like Montana, distance and geography can be barriers to providing essential health services in a timely fashion especially when it comes to mental health and addiction," Doran said. "Project ECHO has real promise to improve the way we deliver care. Having access to experts in psychiatric will no doubt translate to better care and safer communities. We think it is a great model for all of Montana."

Through Project ECHO, Billings Clinic is currently piloting the program with the Rimrock Foundation and the Montana Department of Corrections. Right now, the project is only in Billings, but expansion might be possible in the future.

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