Home CIO Perspectives OSF HealthCare Battles the Opioid Epidemic with Data

OSF HealthCare Battles the Opioid Epidemic with Data

by Heidi Bullman

The opioid epidemic has challenged healthcare organizations for years and has only intensified as a result of the country’s other public health crisis, COVID-19.  The epidemic is so widespread that additional clinician training and education, increased use of medication-assisted treatments (MATs), and continued production of naloxone aren’t enough; it’s going to take data.

Recognizing the severity of COVID-19’s impact on the opioid epidemic, DuPage County, Illinois issued a public safety announcement in May alerting citizens that within a three-week timespan there had been 20 opioid-related deaths out of the 303 overdoses recorded in the county within 2020. This is where data plays a fundamental role. By determining how these overdoses originate – for instance, via prescribing patterns – and then monitoring that, there’s the opportunity to slow the opioid epidemic in its tracks. OSF HealthCare in Peoria County, Illinois, did just that when they created the Opioid Explorer.

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In partnership with Qlik, a company specializing in data integration and analytics, OSF HealthCare was able to devise a company-wide strategy rooted in data to shift prescribing patterns throughout the entire health system.

Using the Opioid Explorer, the health system was able to “visualize facility-administered medications and opioid prescriptions, encourage transparency and benchmarking, and identify trends and opportunities,” according to a recent eBook. And as a result, Opioid Explorer users – which included approximately 100 clinical leaders across the health system — have since seen reduced tablet counts on outpatient orders by 14 percent, reduced tablets per prescription by 6.6 percent, and helped to reduce the number of new opioid users by 19.7 percent.

“Our providers see hundreds of patients and write hundreds of prescriptions,” explained Dr. Richard Ginnetti, regional medical director in the Eastern Region in Bloomington and part of the overall OSF HealthCare opioid initiative for a post on OSF Healthcare’s blog. “The Opioid Explorer allows [our clinicians] to view their overall prescribing habits, how that compares to their peers and enables them to provide the best and safest care possible for our patients.”

For nearly 30 years the opioid epidemic has been one of the nation’s most challenging public health crises and despite numerous attempts to halt its negative impacts on American communities, the battle is far from over. In fighting the opioid epidemic, experts must first identify factors that prolong the epidemic, including prescribing patterns, and from there, healthcare systems can analyze trends and make changes where necessary to stem the tide of prescription drug abuse.

Learn more about the Opioid Explorer, here.

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