HealthLNK is leading the technical design for a HepC registry and assisting data partners for successful connections with a central node.

The Hepatitis C Community Alliance to Test and Treat (HepCATT) in Chicago targets vulnerable populations with the goal of increased identification, treatment and cure of hepatitis C (HCV) infection.  Application of current recommendations for screening and treatment require strong partnerships across all levels of the healthcare system that leverage existing resources to increase capacity for HCV care, particularly in underserved communities. Emerging direct acting antivirals (DAA) treatment regimens will greatly enhance the HCV cure rates, and will require increased public awareness and education, improved surveillance and support for infected individuals to initiate and complete treatment, cost effective strategies to expand access to care, and enhanced capacity of primary care providers (PCPs) to deliver effective HCV care. Our coalition is in a strong position to address the HCV epidemic in Chicago.


The program brings together leading academic medical centers, community health providers, corporate partners and advocacy groups in collaboration with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH).
An estimated three million Americans, including 70,000 Chicago residents, are living with HCV infection. Approximately half are unaware of the infection. While this blood-borne infection can progress slowly, it can cause severe liver damage and, in some cases, death. Hepatitis C is the leading cause for liver transplants.

HepCCATT focuses on four key areas:
•    Public education on hepatitis C risk factors and importance of testing
•    Expand primary care provider (PCP) capacity to treat, and cure HCV at community health centers
•    Robust surveillance to monitor population-level changes in HCV testing, treatment, and cure
•    Coordination among all stakeholders to improve access and reduce the cost of HCV care.

Under the leadership of ECHO-Chicago director and founder Daniel Johnson, MD, section chief of academic pediatrics and associate professor of pediatrics at UChicago Medicine, this city-wide collaboration includes IDPH, CDPH, Alliance of Chicago, American Liver Foundation -- Great Lakes Division, BioCure Specialty Pharmacy, Caring Ambassadors Program Inc., Medical Research Analytics and Informatics Alliance, Northwestern Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago, and Walgreens. A network of at least 288 PCPs at 30 Chicago community health centers will participate in ECHO-Chicago training over the four-year grant period. A group of at least eight HCV experts and advocates will serve on an external advisory board.

"We're thrilled to have CDC's support of this groundbreaking effort to reach Chicagoans infected with HCV and link them to appropriate care -- particularly in this period of tremendous progress in well-tolerated, curative therapies," said Johnson. "The promise of this initiative lies in its dynamic, cross-sector collaboration, leveraging the strengths of each partner. ECHO-Chicago is pleased to lend its extensive community health network and valuable insight on health care capacity building."

Beginning this fall, HepCCATT will implement a suite of coordinated interventions aimed at Chicago populations with HCV-related health disparities, including people born between 1945 and 1965, African-Americans, and current and former intravenous drug users. The initiative has set ambitious goals: screening for 18,500 people each year, with 2,500 people treated and cured.

Under HepCCATT, ECHO-Chicago will lead efforts to significantly increase the number of community-based primary care providers trained to diagnose and treat HCV, particularly in underserved communities. The physicians will participate in a case-based, interactive telehealth training curriculum developed by leading HCV expert Andrew Aronsohn, MD, co-principle investigator for HepCCATT. Aronsohn is a hepatologist at UChicago Medicine and a panel member for HCV guidance for the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases and the Infectious Disease Society of America.

High tech videoconference systems will allow PCPs to engage in case review and discussion similar to medical rounds, a standard in academic medical centers. The approach offers participants the opportunity to learn from a respected specialist and from each other about best practices in HCV prevention, screening and treatment tailored for community primary care settings. The ECHO model has demonstrated effectiveness in the treatment of HCV. A clinical trial of patients treated in a sub-specialty clinic at University of New Mexico Hospital (UNMH) and patients treated via an ECHO-trained PCP showed no significant difference in outcomes, including cure.

Several HepCCATT partners will coordinate grassroots public education efforts, targeting community-based organizations, churches and other safety net service providers. Organizers also plan to use social media and community events to increase awareness and promote testing.
The Community Outreach Intervention Program (COIP) at University of Illinois at Chicago will use their highly regarded case management protocol to deliver services that reduce barriers to treatment, such as transportation, medical insurance, drug abuse treatment and financial assistance programs. Case managers will link HCV-infected individuals to affordable, accessible, high quality medical care from doctors who have been trained by ECHO-Chicago.