Pennsylvania opioid map

Pennsylvania’s data-driven opioid strategy

When Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf declared the opioid epidemic a statewide disaster in January, he tapped the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency to oversee a newly created Opioid Operational Command Center.  The center tracks opioid prescription and overdose information collected by the Department of Health’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program and emergency rooms across the state.

MORE INFO

In opioid epidemic, states intensify prescription drug monitoring

At least 39 states are insisting that health professionals use prescription drug-monitoring programs to analyze each patient’s prescription drug use before writing another prescription for highly addictive drugs. Read more.

Virginia maps opioid response

Color-coded heat maps show gaps in addiction treatment coverage so decision-makers can recruit more providers and push community outreach. Read more.

ODmap gives responders real-time overdose data

Geocoded information about overdoses is sent from responders' smartphones to a secure server where it can be analyzed by authorized personnel. Read more.

Can IT help cure the opioid crisis?

Government agencies and public health organizations are working to develop new tools to share pertinent health care data among providers and, in some cases, to predict the path of a user about to return to a life of opioid abuse. Read more.

An interactive data visualization tool shows prescription dispensation trends for different classes of opioids over a year-long period ending in the third quarter of 2017.  By tracking prescriptions and emergency department visits by county, the Opioid Operational Command Center can identify communities that are experiencing spikes in overdoses and provide appropriate response.

“This data is critical to not only determining where resources are needed, but to identify localized prescribing trends,” Acting Health Secretary and Physician General Rachel Levine said. “We will be able to use this tool to improve education and resources for prescribers to ensure that opioids are being prescribed judiciously to patients.”

The Department of Health developed the dashboard on the public version of Tableau’s visual analytics platform.

“Being able to easily see how this public health crisis impacts the public at a local level is a small but effective first step in addressing this crisis on a national level,” Sean Brophy, regional vice president of public sector at Tableau, said. “Our team at Tableau has always been available to answer questions and offer advice, such as suggestions based on similar projects in other states or regions, but the Department of Health team primarily developed this dashboard on their own.”

Thirteen state agencies are working together at the Command Center to combat the opioid epidemic.  In the first three weeks of operation, the hotline that connects people to rehab centers has received more than 300 calls per week, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Pennsylvania has the third highest rate of drug overdoses.  The Philadelphia division of the Drug Enforcement Agency reported 4,642 drug-related overdose deaths in 2016, an increase of 37 percent from 2015. Eighty-five percent of those deaths were related to opioids.

About the Author

Sara Friedman is a reporter/producer for GCN, covering cloud, cybersecurity and a wide range of other public-sector IT topics.

Before joining GCN, Friedman was a reporter for Gambling Compliance, where she covered state issues related to casinos, lotteries and fantasy sports. She has also written for Communications Daily and Washington Internet Daily on state telecom and cloud computing. Friedman is a graduate of Ithaca College, where she studied journalism, politics and international communications.

Friedman can be contacted at sfriedman@gcn.com or follow her on Twitter @SaraEFriedman.

Click here for previous articles by Friedman.


inside gcn

  • cloud services (jijomathaidesigners/Shutterstock.com)

    AWS GovCloud gets more enterprise services

Reader Comments

Tue, Mar 27, 2018 Brandon Rife Lnacaster

Hard to imagine how this will be of any real value in decision making.

Thu, Feb 22, 2018 Jack

How much of a burden does this place on the hospitals / pharmacies to track this info? Or is it a part of the electronic records keeping that they use. The implementation of tracking for Pseudoephedrine is a big pain in the butt from my standpoint as a customer. I can't imagine the time spent on the pharmacy side of the counter. Entering D/L, signing forms, etc. just adds complexity and cost to an already paperwork intensive operation. How much extra work does Pennsylvania's system add? Or are they just pulling already existing prescription data from their database?

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group