Bernie Eskridge, M.D., is a pediatrician at MU Pediatrics, part of the University of Missouri's MU Health Care system in Columbia, Missouri, and is engaged in the Missouri ECHO for Autism. The goal of their teleECHO™ clinic is to increase confidence in identifying and treating autism symptoms and to expand knowledge about behavioral treatments for autism. As participants in the teleECHO clinic, primary care physicians and other health care professionals have access to experts from the Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders. These experts help clinicians increase their own knowledge about evidence-based practices for screening, diagnosis, and treatment of autism; common medical and psychiatric concerns in children with autism; and successful office visits for children with autism and other behavioral concerns.
Dr. Eskridge first joined Missouri ECHO for Autism out of a desire to learn how he could help his patients while they were waiting the 6 to 18 months it takes to confirm an autism diagnosis. He felt a great need to learn more about tools and techniques to address his young patients' comorbid conditions and ease some of the symptoms that parents were reporting during the diagnostic waiting period.
He participates in the virtual, 90-minute teleECHO clinic sessions every first and third Wednesday of each month, during which time he is able to discuss very complex cases and receive real-time advice from the hub experts. The experts provide recommendations about how to treat patients' immediate needs and understand what is best to say to parents as they are waiting for diagnostic confirmation. Additionally, he has learned much more about local resources he can offer patients who are looking to jumpstart treatment for their children. Those patients who are at critical stages in their care can also often be seen much more quickly as a result of the professional networks and relationships that Dr. Eskridge has built with experts through regular participation in the teleECHO clinic sessions.
Dr. Eskridge feels that participating in teleECHO clinics is more than worth the time spent, particularly if clinicians are interested in a particular disease or condition. He recommends that all clinicians consider blocking their time to attend a teleECHO clinic session because it provides an invaluable opportunity to learn from the experts, gain CME credits, and gain confidence in providing care in areas that may feel less familiar or for which they received no formal training.