- The Aetna Foundation and the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health recently announced a $1 million partnership to build on the Opioid Data Dashboard, part of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s initiative to combat the opioid crisis.
“My administration takes an all-hands-on-deck approach to this crisis, but it takes the entire community to truly combat the opioid epidemic,” Governor Wolf said.
“The Aetna Foundation’s $1 million grant brings together government, academia and private industry in a unique partnership that allows us to pool our resources and create tools to make a difference. These partnerships are vital as we work to help our loved ones, our neighbors and our communities devastated by this disease.”
The Commonwealth launched the dashboard on March 14, 2018. The tool focuses on data sets in three main areas recognized by Governor Wolf in his opioid disaster declaration: prevention, rescue, and treatment.
The grant from the Aetna Foundation will fund a two-year project to enhance the Opioid Data Dashboard by providing real-time data and building predictive analytics models to help identify trends for future community needs.
“In as near-real time as possible, this dashboard will give health officials, policymakers, law enforcement and the public a more complete, dynamic picture of the opioid epidemic in Pennsylvania,” said Dr. Donald S. Burke, Dean of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.
“This should allow us to maximize limited resources to stem this epidemic, which is disproportionately impacting our state. I’m impressed with the foresight of the Aetna Foundation to fund this initiative and proud of the steps our state leaders are taking to make public health data available to solve a public health crisis.”
Governor Wolf signed a statewide disaster declaration for the opioid epidemic on January 10, 2018. The declaration intends to enhance state response, increase access to treatment, and save lives through several initiatives, including the establishment of an Opioid Operational Command Center.
The disaster declaration also focuses on expanding access to the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP), waiving annual licensing requirements for high-performing drug and alcohol treatment facilities, and adding overdoses as reportable conditions.
In addition to the disaster declaration initiatives, Governor Wolf has been collaborating with state agencies to implement strategies that will further combat the opioid crisis.
Some of these strategies include establishing a new law limiting the number of opioids prescribed to minors, forming new prescribing guidelines for providers, and integrating education on safe prescribing in medical school courses.
The partnership between Aetna and the University of Pittsburgh will build on these efforts and offer data to give officials a comprehensive picture of the opioid crisis in Pennsylvania.
“Solving the opioid crisis will take a collaborative, cross-sector effort. This data dashboard will fuel the work being done in Pennsylvania by bridging the strengths of the private, public and academic sectors to save more lives,” said Dr. Harold Paz, Aetna Chief Medical Officer and Aetna Foundation board member.
“We’re encouraged by the work of the state of Pennsylvania to build a dashboard that will help inform decision making that will not only serve as a vital tool for Pennsylvanians, but can be replicated in other states deeply impacted by this epidemic.”