Leveraging Data Analytics in the Fight Against Prescription Opioid Abuse

Every day in the US thousands of legitimate prescriptions for the opioid class of pharmaceuticals are written to mitigate acute pain during post-operation recovery, chronic back and neck pain, and a host of other cases where patients experience moderate-to-severe discomfort. 

While many of these drugs provide pain relief, the potential for misuse and outright abuse due to their addictive nature is extremely high. Since the 1990s, opioid abuse in the US skyrocketed to the point that in 2017 the Department of Health and Human Services declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency. This epidemic affects more than just individuals. Families and communities, as well as the US healthcare system at the federal, state, and local level, carry the burden emotionally and financially. 

Solving this crisis can and should be supported by insights gained from the vast amounts of data available to healthcare providers and government agencies. The healthcare industry, in partnership with government agencies, must engage with a robust modern data management solution that can extract electronic health data in the form of controlled substance data, prescriber data, and patient data and transform it into meaningful, measurable, and actionable information.

The power of data to save lives

Keck Medicine of USC (KMC), a university-based medical system in Southern California, has taken on this challenge with the help of Cloudera’s data management platform, CDP (Cloudera Data Platform). With CDP, KMC was able to develop the aptly named Controlled Substance Analytics platform to leverage data analytics in the fight against opioid abuse and misuse. 

CDP gives KMC’s platform the ability to connect to any data source of any type (structured, unstructured, streaming) and the open data lakehouse enables multi-function analytics on both streaming and stored data. Data teams are empowered to collaborate with the tools of their choice all with the security and governance needed to meet the highly regulated healthcare industry compliance requirements.

Prior to implementation, basic tasks such as analyzing pharmacy orders for conspicuous opioid prescribing practices were resource-constrained and burdened by time-consuming manual processes, yielding little actionable insight. 

With the Controlled Substance Analytics platform online, KMC has eliminated manual data collection and streamlined data processing. Each day, multiple data sets, including prescriptions and patient health records, are loaded from the electronic medical records (EMR) system directly into a Cloudera enterprise data lakehouse. Quantitative values are assigned to complex risk factors to illustrate trends, severity, and key indicators allowing KMC to perform the most complex data analytics to identify those at high risk for abuse or misuse of opioids.

In the healthcare industry and across the public sector leveraging data is critical to solving some of society’s biggest challenges, including the fight against opioid abuse.

Join us for an exclusive industry webinar on March 2, 2023, to hear KMC data leaders discuss specific examples of how data analytics have helped them identify suspicious prescription activity, limit the abuse of controlled substances, and much more. 

Kyle Petrosino
Sales Account Manager
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