AHS fighting the opioid crisis with innovative data strategy

CALGARY (660 NEWS) — Alberta Health Services is on the frontline of the fight against the burgeoning opioid crisis.

They are coming up with innovative methods for collecting accurate opioid data on overdoses and deaths.

Major gaps exist with current data collection making it difficult to assess the scope of the opioid crisis, primarily because AHS and other provincial health organizations rely on emergency and medical services data.

However not all opioid overdoses involve an emergency response causing that data to go uncaptured especially now that more people at different community organizations including high schools, it will become even more challenging  It’s also posing a serious challenge for health providers to deliver preventative care.

Their proposal has launched them into the finals of a national-wide competition. The provincial health organization is one of five finalists in the MaRS Opioid Data Challenge led by Public Health Canada and MaRS Discovery District.

As scientist Shelly Vik with Alberta Health Services explains opioid-related data is collected separately by a wide range of community agencies and health services. This can result in duplication of the same incident which makes it difficult to ascertain.

“What we are trying to do now is to bring the data together,” she explained. “A lot of our reporting relies heavily upon our administrative data sources but we’ve tried to amalgamate data that is being brought in from our areas like community surveys and the safe consumption sites.”

The purpose of streamlining the data collection process is to create a more comprehensive data set that can provide a more accurate scope of how many opioid overdoses and deaths there are across the province. This data is critical for the design, delivery, and targeting of interventions aimed at reducing opioid-related harms

AHS has the chance to win up to two $50,000 that can help winners scale and integrate their concepts into existing public health surveillance systems.


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