Banner Alzheimer’s Institute is expanding a virtual training and mentoring program for Phoenix metro area physicians and other primary care professionals to help them effectively treat patients with cognitive disorders, including Alzheimer’s and related dementias.

The Dementia ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) is a free, 12-week course funded by Maricopa County. Banner Alzheimer’s plans to train up to 250 frontline clinicians over the next 14 months to help them feel more capable in diagnosing and managing memory disorders. The program aims to help patients and caregivers receive more effective care from local providers they know and trust.

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“Dementia ECHO leverages technology to disseminate specialist centers’ dementia care knowledge to frontline practitioners,” said Ganesh Gopalakrishna, MD, associate clinical medical director for BAI’s Stead Family Memory Center in Phoenix. “The Maricopa County grant helps us expand the program, thus helping to reduce disparities in health care access in the community.”

For each one-hour session, program participants will connect virtually with instructors/mentors who specialize in Alzheimer’s and related dementias. Each session will include brief lectures to share evidence-based practices in care across a range of topics such as: remote cognitive testing; medications; behavior management; disease progression; caregiver support; conveying diagnoses, prognoses, and issues such as driving, advance directives, and end-of-life care. In addition, participants will have the opportunity to present their challenging patient cases (de-identified) for expert advice and discussion.

More than six million Americans have dementia, and as the proportion of older adults continues to grow in Maricopa County, more Arizonans will be living with Alzheimer’s and related dementias. Project ECHO, initially developed by the New Mexico Health Science Center, is intended to help lessen these burdens on primary providers while elevating their expertise in specialty care. Banner Alzheimer’s Dementia ECHO launched in 2020 with plans to expand across Banner Health and other health systems, and to attract care providers from a range of disciplines in diverse and underserved communities.

“For patients and families, delayed detection and management of dementia results in worse outcomes, higher caregiver stress levels, and fragmented, often redundant care,” said Dr. Gopalakrishna. “For the health care system, a shortage of specialists in this field places a heavier burden on other providers to manage care of these patients.”

Training will involve five cohorts. Medical professionals interested in participating should contact

Since its inception in 2006, Banner Alzheimer’s Institute (BAI) has sought to find effective Alzheimer’s disease prevention therapies without losing another generation, to establish a new model of dementia care for patients and family caregivers, and to forge new models of collaboration in biomedical research. It has made groundbreaking contributions to the unusually early detection, tracking, diagnosis, and study of Alzheimer’s, and aims to find an effective prevention therapy by 2025. It includes the pioneering Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative (API), an extensive profile of research studies and clinical trials, comprehensive clinical, family and community service programs, a leading brain imaging research program, and strategic partnerships with numerous public and private research organizations around the world. Learn more at