Opioid Data Analytics Group Convened by SAS
Published: July 19, 2019
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Software maker SAS has united a diverse group of experts to explore data-driven solutions to the opioid epidemic.
Every day, more than 130 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioids. The misuse of and addiction to opioids – including prescription pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl – is a tragic and expensive problem that is devastating families and communities across the country. Many organizations and policy makers have offered solutions to this problem, ranging from healthcare-centered solutions to judicial ones. However, as opioid misuse and abuse continue to rise, data analytics can provide an innovative means to understanding and ultimately alleviating an epidemic that claims hundreds of lives each day.
To this end, software company SAS recently launched the SAS Opioid Analytics Users Group, which brings together data experts from the public sector, academia, and technology industry to share best practices and develop new solutions. The group will use a data-driven approach, taking a deep dive into the information and numbers surrounding opioid use. They plan to start by combing through state and federal prescription drug records, as well as standardizing record-keeping methods.
The group will also look for innovative ways to utilize the information that is currently available, such as harnessing geographic data around usage patterns. This particular strategy will allow state and local governments to better allot treatment resources. Similarly, the group plans to explore the data surrounding illicit drug use. This will allow researchers to identify hotspots as well as determine where to deploy recovery teams and deliver services.
Although the group was only recently convened, SAS is already working with various state agencies and other key partners to leverage data specifically for this project. Indeed, SAS is well-positioned to take on this endeavor, as all 50 states and at least 15 federal agencies already use the company’s software to track relevant opioid data. According to SAS Medical Director Steve Kearney, the group’s “users combine analytics prowess with a desire to improve the world” and they will “focus [their] passion for using data for good on this tragic public health emergency.”