DHHS Dashboard Tracks Opioid Action Plan Progress; Data Show Reduction of Prescription Opioids, Increased Access to Care


A data dashboard developed by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services shows the state is beginning to see success in its efforts to combat the opioid crisis. The oversupply of prescription opioids is being reduced and access to treatment and recovery services has increased.

In the fourth quarter of 2017, there were 20 million fewer opioid pills dispensed statewide, compared to the same period the year before when 141 million were distributed. Data also indicate more people are receiving care through medication-assisted treatment, coupled with clinical treatment services, for substance use disorder.

"The opioid data dashboard is a powerful tool for health care providers, community coalitions and everyone involved in turning the tide of the opioid crisis in North Carolina," said DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, M.D. "While we are encouraged by these early metrics, our data show that we still have a lot of work to do."
To combat the opioid crisis, DHHS joined with community partners to develop the North Carolina Opioid Action Plan. Launched last June, the plan established 13 data metrics to track and monitor North Carolina's opioid epidemic. The metrics track progress toward five overarching goals: reducing deaths, reducing oversupply of prescription opioids, reducing drug diversion and illicit drug flow, increasing naloxone access and increasing access to treatment and recovery services.
The metrics are updated quarterly in the dashboard. The most recent quarter and year-to-date provisional data are displayed in the metric summary tables for the state and for each county. The dashboard also displays trends over time in graphs of each metric for the state and all 100 counties. Death certificate data for 2017 is not yet finalized, but provisional data from the N.C. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner show that in the fourth quarter of 2017, more than 80 percent of opioid deaths involved heroin, fentanyl and/or fentanyl analogues.
More information, including instructions on how to use the dashboard, is available at the Opioid Action Plan Data Dashboard site: https://injuryfreenc.shinyapps.io/OpioidActionPlan. More details on the Opioid Action Plan and other steps being taken to turn the tide of opioid addiction in North Carolina are available at https://www.ncdhhs.gov/north-carolinas-opioid-action-plan.
"The opioid crisis will require sustained efforts in prevention and treatment by many partners," said Susan Kansagra, M.D., chief of the Chronic Disease and Injury Section in DHHS' Division of Public Health. "The state and county level data in this dashboard will help us measure our progress in combating this epidemic."

In the past year, several measures have been put in place to help stem the opioid crisis in North Carolina:

  • Funding to support the placement of peer support specialists in emergency departments to connect those who have had an opioid overdose to treatment and recovery.
  • Release of funding for community projects that further key actions in the NC Opioid Action plan.
  • Distribution of nearly 40,000 units of the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone to help save lives in the fight against opioids. The drug has been distributed to first responders, families and friends. More than 6,000 additional naloxone doses have been made available through other funding sources to local health departments, community corrections staff and other community partners.
  • Distribution of funding received from the federal Opioid State Targeted Response grant to expand treatment, including medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder.
  • Updating of the Controlled Substance Reporting System to connect to other states, including all that border North Carolina, thereby allowing doctors and other clinicians to obtain multi-state information about their patients’ opioid prescriptions.
  • Implementation of the STOP Act, which includes opioid prescribing limits for acute pain.

The release of this dashboard is consistent with other DHHS efforts to ensure data are transparent and more easily available to stakeholders. In August 2017, DHHS began posting monthly surveillance reports related to emergency department visits related to overdose.

Additionally, DHHS produced an interactive map that integrates data from a variety of data sources to highlight social and demographic factors that drive health and well being in the community. The department also transitioned Medicaid and NC Health Choice data related to enrollment, services, performance, payments and expenditures into dashboards for a comprehensive view of the program’s results and activities. DHHS continues to evaluate sources of information that will be useful to stakeholders across the state and make additional information more accessible for the public.

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