Governments using data to track, predict opioid overdose

Data is helping the city of Cincinnati and the state of Ohio to find geographic hotspots for overdose and predict opioid risk patterns


By EMS1 Staff

CINCINNATI — Data is being used by cities and governments to track overdoses and predict opioid trends.

Cincinnati Chief Data Officer Brandon Crowley presented how data is being used to track the city’s opioid epidemic last month with Socrata to deploy first responder resources and advise community outreach.

After a spike in overdoses in 2016, Cincinnati began analyzing EMS response data to identify trends and geographic points to help strategically deploy public safety officers and medical resources.

The Heroin Dashboard is a subset of EMS data which captures responses to reported heroin overdose incidents. The dataset helps the city dispatch roving medics and increase public safety and public health response in hotspots while it also advises on trends.

For example, Crowley said the city was able to better understand why it was exhausting its naloxone supply. It turns out EMS was having to administer double doses for a particular cut of heroin used at a particular point in time.

Thirteen months of anonymized data is shared through a visualization — including adjusted incident latitude and longitude coordinates — which is updated daily, helping to keep communities appraised. Residents and community leaders can use the Heroin Dashboard to understand overdoses in each neighborhood, and they can access the full data through the city’s Open Data Portal.

While the city has not yet implemented predictive modeling with its heroin incident dataset, Crowley said data analysts do intend to build on it. But at the state level, analysts have begun using Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) data, which Ohio launched in 2010, to predict opioid risk patterns throughout the state.

Leveraging State PDMP Data

The state of Ohio has been combining data on known overdose deaths with prescription data from the Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System (OARRS), which tracks the dispensing of controlled prescription drugs to patients Ohio, to build predictive models as early detection for overdose.

A National RX Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit webinar on May 4, featuring Chad Garner, director of OARRS along with speakers from Appris Health, will explain how PDMP data and advanced analytics can impact detection of prescription narcotic and opioid overdose deaths and review the early identification process of prevention and management of substance use disorders.

According to the 2016 OARRS annual report, the total doses of opioids dispensed to Ohio patients decreased 20.4 percent from 793 million in 2012 to 631 million in 2016.

Nearly all U.S. states have adopted PDMP systems that support data analytics efforts to better understand and address the opioid epidemic, except Missouri. Although Missouri Senator Rob Schaaf, a physician, said that he will now support the system if the proposed state law requires doctors to use it, according to the Associated Press.

Ohio requires doctors to access OARRS, and the state’s Board of Pharmacy requires pharmacists to use it before dispensing medication.

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