Route 50 talks about the importance of maps in telling the story of the opioid epidemic and how it can help public officials in particular drive home the point. Sometimes a picture is worth far more than 1,000 words. One of the challenges I see is the huge amount of data associated with prescription monitoring. We have to make it easy to assess for health care professionals (and, really, everyone) involved with the problem. Maps are one tool to do this. Route 50 mentions one Kentucky effort.

The Northern Kentucky story map does more than just put all of the health department’s publicly available data in one place, it also contains information about syringe exchange programs and treatment options in the region and lets people know where they can obtain life-saving naloxone kits. In short, the story map helps clearly communicate the extent of the problem, and all the government-led initiatives in place to combat it.

Putting out these maps has shown results.

The map has had a concrete impact on how this region tackles the epidemic. Since the map went live, for instance, Judge Moore credits the tool, at least partly, with facilitating one piece of pending legislation.

I think using maps to help a wider audience understand the scope of the problem is a great idea. We will see more change faster if we tell a compelling story, supported by images that make sense for visual thinkers. In PastRx, we use maps to make it easy to see how far a patient travels to fill their prescriptions. I’d love to hear about maps and other infographics you find effective in putting the word out. How you use maps in prescription monitoring?

David Stengle
Chief Marketing Officer

The CDC advises providers to use PDMPs… States should consider ways to increase their use … available real-time, and alerts to prescribers.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention

A study was conducted to estimate the societal costs of prescription opioid abuse, dependence, and misuse in the United States. Costs were grouped into three categories: health care, workplace, and criminal justice.

The results: Total US societal costs of prescription opioid abuse were estimated at $55.7 billion in 2007 (USD in 2009). Workplace costs accounted for $25.6 billion, health care costs accounted for $25.0 billion, and criminal justice costs accounted for $5.1 billion. Workplace costs were driven by lost earnings from premature death ($11.2 billion) and reduced compensation/lost employment ($7.9 billion).

Conclusions: The costs of prescription opioid abuse represent a substantial and growing economic burden for the society. The increasing prevalence of abuse suggests an even greater societal burden in the future.

Pain Medicine, Volume 12, Issue 4, April 2011
Prescription Advisory Systems & Technology

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