code-a-thon participants (HHS Idea Lab/Twitter)

Opioid code-a-thon winners announced

 At the recent Department of Health and Human Services’ Opioid Symposium and Code-a-Thon, teams used data from HHS and other federal agencies -- some of it released for the first time --  to analyze trends and patterns and propose solutions to the opioid crisis. Three winning teams walked away with $10,000 each.

The event highlighted the importance of data in the fight against the opioid epidemic. One winner was named in each of three categories: one focused on the supply and movement of legal and illegal opioids; another on improving access to effective treatment and recovery services; and a final track on identifying at-risk populations and their risk characteristics.

The Take Back America program, created by the Visionist Inc. team, assessed the unmet need for pharmacy takeback programs where unused or unneeded opioids can be returned, taking a source of opioids out of circulation.

The Origami Innovations team won the treatment track with a model to help with the real-time tracking of overdoses. And the Opioid Prescriber Awareness Tool team won the final category with an application that visualizes physicians' opioid prescribing habits compared to their peers.

"Over 300 coders answered the call and 50 teams joined us at HHS headquarters to create a community that will continue to use data and technology to develop new solutions to address the epidemic,” HHS Chief Technology Officer Bruce Greenstein said.

Governments across the country are turning to the numbers to gain a better understanding of these addictive drugs and the lives they’re affecting. Indiana, for example, is pooling relevant data from multiple agencies in a data hub and allowing them all contributors to access it. In Washington, electronic health record systems are being connected to the state's prescription drug monitoring programs. First responders across the country are starting to use the ODMap mobile app to track spikes in fatal and nonfatal overdoses in real time.

About the Author

Matt Leonard is a former reporter for GCN.

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