Special to 1812Blockhouse

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has announced that the state has launched new data dashboards to better track and report data on overdose deaths and other substance-use related measures for all 88 Ohio counties.

These statewide dashboards were adopted and expanded from dashboards created through the National Institutes of Health-funded HEALing Communities Study –

the largest implementation study ever conducted in addiction research – aimed at investigating how tools for preventing and treating opioid misuse, opioid use

disorder (OUD), and opioid overdose are most effective at the local level.

Through the study, researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and College of Medicine initially developed community-tailored, data-driven dashboards that included opioid overdose deaths and other opioid use disorder-related measures for 18 counties in Ohio.

Using the public health data in these dashboards, communities partnered with researchers to determine which evidence-based interventions to implement to reduce overdoses and opioid misuse. Based on the success of these dashboards in the initial 18 counties in the study, the State of Ohio with RecoveryOhio has now implemented them statewide. 

“Expanding the HEALing Communities Study dashboards to all 88 Ohio counties provides invaluable data that will allow local organizations and communities to better plan for their needs as they battle this public health crisis in our state – and ultimately save lives,” said Governor DeWine. 

A total of 5,017 people in Ohio died from unintentional drug overdoses in 2020, which was a 25% increase over the previous year, according to the Ohio Department of Health

Beginning in 2019, The Ohio State University has led a consortium of academic, state and community partners on the Ohio portion of the HEALing Communities Study, which is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration through the Helping to End Addiction Long-term Initiative, or NIH HEAL Initiative.

“This dashboard project now benefitting all Ohio communities wouldn’t have been possible without the unwavering support and vision of the late Dr. Rebecca Jackson of Ohio State, who led this project until her passing in October,” said Bridget Freisthler, professor and dean of research at Ohio State’s College of Social Work who is now leading the Ohio HEALing Communities Study. 

The Ohio consortium brings together experts from four universities — Ohio State, University of CincinnatiCase Western Reserve University and Ohio University  — along with leaders from state agencies and community organizations. The HEALing Communities Study involves about 125 faculty and staff working along with the state’s RecoveryOhio initiative.

“The dashboards allow us to use real-time research to focus prevention, treatment and recovery programs across the state in a transparent platform available to the public,” said Aimee Shadwick, director of RecoveryOhio. “Eventually, we will expand these databases to not only include data on opioid use disorders, but all substance use disorders.”

To help communities learn how best to implement the dashboards, RecoveryOhio will offer virtual training and virtual “office hours” over the next several weeks. For more information, visit RecoveryOhio.

The dashboards report on 55 opioid-related measures including overdose deaths; high-risk prescribing; overdoses treated in emergency departments; naloxone units distributed by Project DAWN; individuals receiving and being continuously enrolled in treatment and EMS events involving naloxone administration. 

“In order to create transformative change, you have to start with little steps,” said Timothy Huerta, associate dean for Research Information Technology at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center and College of Medicine and director of Biomedical Informatics at Ohio State’s Center for Clinical and Translational Science. “The HEALing Communities Study served as kindling for having conversations about what was possible, and we are excited that this intervention will continue beyond the study period.”

The Helping to End Addiction Long-term® Initiative, or NIH HEAL Initiative®, is an aggressive, trans-NIH effort to speed scientific solutions to stem the national opioid public health crisis. Launched in April 2018, the initiative is focused on improving prevention and treatment strategies for opioid misuse and addiction and enhancing pain management. For more information, visit: https://heal.nih.gov

Image by jorono from Pixabay

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