The opioid crisis is devastating communities across America. In recent decades, the misuse of both prescription and non-prescription opioids in the United States has rapidly increased. Devastating consequences of the opioid epidemic include increases in opioid misuse and related overdoses, as well as the rising incidence of newborns experiencing withdrawal syndrome due to opioid use and misuse during pregnancy. In 2016, 116 people died everyday in the United States from opioid-related drug overdoses.
Data is a critical tool in fighting this nationwide epidemic. Many federal, state, and local government agencies as well as nonprofits, academic institutions, and the private sector are using data to track opioid prescriptions, identify treatment opportunities, and understand risk factors that can predict opioid use. But legal, cultural, and technical barriers to sharing and using this information have hindered efforts to improve prevention and treatment.
In July 2018, CODE co-hosted a Roundtable to address these challenges and opportunities with the Office of the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The Roundtable on Data Sharing Policies, Data-Driven Solutions, and the Opioid Crisis brought together over 70 experts from federal, state, and local government, the private sector, nonprofit organizations, and academia to recommend new approaches. CODE’s report on the Roundtable presented a number of concrete proposals, including changes in regulations, development of data standards, and new systems of data access and usage, that HHS is now considering in its ongoing work to combat the opioid crisis. In 2019, CODE and the HHS Office of the CTO are also partnering on a larger program to facilitate the sharing of important health data, with support from the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).