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Dee Armstrong | Senior Director of Project Management & Operations | ECHO Project Management Group, Inc

Driving Significant Transformations: Dee Armstrong’s Patient-Centric Approach

Dee Armstrong, the Senior Director of Project Management & Operations at ECHO Project Management Group, Inc., is emerging as a guiding light of change in the healthcare landscape. Steeped in a personal journey that ignited the spark of transformation, Dee founded ECHO with a profound commitment to reshaping the healthcare experience for those grappling with uncommon medical conditions.

Behind the title and professional accolades lies a deeply personal motivation that has shaped Dee’s journey and fueled her commitment to revolutionizing patient healthcare services. The genesis of ECHO Project Management Group is rooted in a poignant story that resonates with empathy and a fervent desire for change.

Dee is the visionary founder and she found her inspiration in the challenging experiences of her own family—specifically, the profound impact of Alzheimer’s disease on her beloved grandmother and the struggles her uncle, Don, faced with severe schizophrenia. Witnessing their battles, Dee recognized the inadequacies within the healthcare system, where her family members failed to receive the care and support, they deserved.

In the wake of her grandmother and uncle’s passing, Dee made a solemn promise to them—a vow that would propel her into a mission to transform the healthcare landscape. ECHO Project Management Group, Inc., emerged as the tangible embodiment of this commitment, a testament to Dee’s determination to alter the dynamics of how healthcare providers engage with their patients.

While ECHO Project Management Group, Inc. may not have set out to change the world on a global scale, its impact is undeniably profound, particularly in the realm of patient care. Dee’s leadership exemplifies a unique fusion of personal passion and professional prowess, reflecting a dedication to improving the lives of those grappling with terminal and mental illnesses.

Let’s explore how each project undertaken at ECHO continues to fulfill Dee’s promise—one study at a time, one patient at a time leaving an indelible mark on the healthcare industry!

Advancing the Processes

By recruiting patients & caregivers who are willing to share their experiences with uncommon illnesses, medical problems and mental illnesses, Dee developed ECHO to enhance patient-centered medical research. ECHO plays a pivotal role in bridging the gap between patients and the healthcare community, providing a connection and creating visibility for patients that has often felt nonexistent in the past. Their valuable shared information regarding their diagnosis and course of treatment will be used by doctors, drug manufacturers and other healthcare organizations to enhance patient care and advance the healthcare industry. They are not just a number any longer, they are a VOICE. With these solid principles in mind, the team at ECHO implements them daily.

Life before ECHO

Dee was motivated by watching her parents build prosperous businesses throughout her youth. It instilled in her two crucial values: integrity and a strong work ethic. These principles have been the foundation for her success. With a deep passion for changing things for the better, she set out with a steadfast focus on her vision. A vision and end goal that is dynamic with a strong focus on the end result and how each person’s experience influences and furthers healthcare and others in the community.

Dee enjoys challenges because they put one to the test and compel people to either advance and adapt or retreat and stay the same. She says, “What fun is life if you can’t learn and grow? Here at ECHO, we love challenges, as we are known for our passion and persistence to recruit rare medical condition audiences.” She further adds, “To be able to get a rare audience of people HEARD is life-changing for them, us and the healthcare industry.

ECHO Project Management Group

At the core of ECHO Project Management Group, Inc. beats a commitment that transcends the ordinary, a commitment to fostering a compassionate environment, rejecting the limitations imposed by uncommon medical disorders and advocating tirelessly to reshape the narrative of those grappling with various health challenges. At the helm of this transformative mission is Dee whose personal journey has driven the organization to the forefront of healthcare innovation.

ECHO’s dedication to making a difference is vividly reflected in its diverse approach to recruiting and studying a wide spectrum of rare illnesses and conditions, with a particular emphasis on cancer and mental health. The organization recognizes that each patient’s experience is unique and this understanding forms the foundation of ECHO’s comprehensive and personalized study approaches.

One of the key methodologies employed by ECHO is the Nationwide Telephone Interviews (TDIs/WATIs), a platform where patients are invited to share their narratives through telephone and web-assisted interviews. This allows patients to articulate their experiences and respond to pertinent questions related to their diagnosis. The combination of technology and personal interaction creates a dynamic space for patients to express individualized insights, contributing invaluable perspectives to the healthcare discourse.

In-depth Interviews (IDIs) conducted face-to-face with experienced strategists form another pillar of ECHO’s methodology. This intimate setting provides patients with the opportunity for nuanced discussions, allowing for a deeper understanding of the intricacies of their medical journey. These encounters not only serve to gather data but also foster a connection that goes beyond the clinical, acknowledging the humanity in each patient’s story.

The In-Facility approach takes the engagement a step further by inviting patients to share their healthcare stories directly at a medical facility. This setting encourages patients to provide additional feedback and share their expertise, creating a collaborative environment where the patient’s voice becomes a vital component in shaping healthcare strategies.

ECHO’s commitment to understanding the holistic impact of chronic conditions is exemplified through the In-Home Ethnography method. Patients, with their consent, welcome interviewers into their homes for in-depth personalized interviews. This approach provides a unique lens into the daily lives of individuals affected by chronic conditions, allowing them to showcase the broader impact on their well-being and identify areas where support may be lacking.

Online Forums, a dynamic platform for free-flowing conversation, enable patients to engage in open dialogue with moderators and fellow participants. This virtual space facilitates the sharing of stories, feedback and insights, providing a comprehensive understanding of the patient experience. The versatility of this method allows the exploration of different facets of the diagnosis, enhancing the richness of the gathered data.

In recognizing that each patient journey is unique, ECHO employs Additional Avenues to capture the essence of these diverse experiences. From short home video descriptions and video blog diaries to written stories in essay form, these alternative research collection methods offer a multifaceted understanding of the patient’s journey.

In some instances, ECHO utilizes Hybrid Methods, combining two or more study options to create a holistic and nuanced approach. This strategic integration ensures a comprehensive exploration of the patient experience, enriching the understanding of complex medical conditions.

Dee’s vision and ECHO Project Management Group’s commitment converge in a harmonious symphony, resonating with empathy and purpose. Through these diverse study approaches, ECHO not only gathers data but also amplifies the voices of those who navigate the intricate landscape of rare illnesses, paving the way for a more compassionate and patient-centric healthcare industry.

Leading to Make a Difference

ECHO stands out because it gives each panelist personal attention. The staff puts a lot of effort into upholding connections with all of its patients, caregivers and medical specialists. Dee states, “We aren’t your traditional medical research company.” She further adds, “We go the extra mile each and every time, whether it be growing our panel organically or simply maintaining the strong relationships we have formed within our panel, support groups, foundations and network of external recruitment avenues.

The team frequently finds itself engaging in 45-minute conversations with the panelists. When it comes to the medical industry, they long for that human connection. The difference is WE CARE and WE WANT to make a difference in each person’s life for their future healthcare needs.

Senior Project Manager of ECHO

Dee’s main role at ECHO is to inspire and instill passion on a daily basis. She finds, “We all have good and bad days, and we are all very different people.” The team dedicates time on a weekly basis for a group call to recenter and discuss personal issues. Focusing attention on supporting one another through life challenges we all experience as women, wives, mothers, daughters, and sisters. She says, “We aren’t just coworkerswe are also each other’s biggest supporters and mentors.

Understanding Balance

Work is a fine balancing act, much like life. Dee observes that while taking a break is something everyone should do, company owners often feel bad about not working when their doors are open. She says, “You eat, sleep and breathe your company. You take it from a concept, a baby if you will and teach it how to eat and walk on its own.

Dee considers that one has to relinquish control as he or she passes it off to the babysitter, aka coworkers, for care. She mentions, “I had to learn that you must stop and recharge on your days off and this is a MUST. I also drill this into the team as well. Rest when you can, as everyone needs to recharge and reset, and you must have time for self-care, family and friends.

Women in Healthcare

Women have come a long way. Women are now able to dream of their future desires and make them happen! Dee asserts, “We can do anything we set our minds to do. This was not always the case, as we all know.” Women are now being heard and in a big way. ECHO is a woman-owned and operated company.

As a female leader, Dee believes that rethinking how ECHO reaches medical patients with rare conditions has been the organization’s most significant achievement in implementing referrals from the healthcare arena. It has found a niche in providing high-quality pre-vetted respondents to physicians and its end clients. She says, “We have many wonderful plans in the works. We are adding services that will connect patients across their conditions to offer support and feedback. I guess you will have to stay tuned for the reveal!” She further adds that ECHO is a small but powerful company that is making huge strides in the future of healthcare, whether it is medication, devices, or simply feedback to healthcare professionals on how to better a patient’s experience. “We are not another number. We are human. We need to be HEARD!

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