On the Opioid Epidemic
Jon Bray, Strategy Officer
Despite ongoing efforts, the opioid epidemic has run rampant in The United States, destroying families, communities, and placing a financial burden on the healthcare system. The true cost is staggering: 2.4 million Americans suffering from addiction 1, over 50,000 needless deaths every year 2, and $72 billion in avoidable healthcare costs 1. Legislation is reactionary by nature, focusing generally on criminality of substances, and investment in treatment and recovery. Still, the number of opioid-related deaths has doubled since 2013 2. We must step back without stepping down, compile tools to allow us to stop the problem at its source and prevent it from continuing.
The Health Exchange Market collectively represents the healthcare system as a whole, providing a nuanced perspective of the entire puzzle. Through our diverse member network, we are constantly working to tailor suites of datasets and services aimed at addressing the problems that face healthcare today. Regarding the opioid epidemic, our goal is to help governmental bodies address over-prescription and medication diversion, beginning with the facts that researchers and professionals have been working to compile for decades.
“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”
- John Adams
We believe that now more than ever our country is in need of new evidence-based solutions for solving this crisis, while ensuring patients who truly need pain-medication have access.
Data within our marketplace can reveal unique details into prescribing habits, giving the FDA a tool for unprecedented checks and balances on over-prescription, and a means of generating meta-profiles of demographics, providers, and payers. For example, utilizing our latest blood microsampling data and technology, it is now possible to test for 300+ prescription and illicit substances, providing empirical data on what medications patients are taking, and not taking. Combining this with qualitative data from doctor-patient interviews, and various types of pharmacy data, we can continue to provide meaningful insights into patients who are diverting medication or are being overprescribed.
Admittedly, no one entity has all the answers, so in line with THEMs mission of uniting the entire healthcare system through a collaborative approach, we seek advice from industry leaders on ways to properly utilize and leverage these unique solutions in an effort to help evaluate the causes of, and develop solutions to address the opioid epidemic.
We can only do so much individually, but together we can change the world.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. 2016. “Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.” https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-FFR1-2016/NSD UH-FFR1-2016.htm
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Multiple Cause of Death Data. Accessed via CDC Wonder.