Using Drug Overdose Syndromic Surveillance Data to Impact Local Public Health Action

How to Cite

Billman, M., & Dotson, K. (2018). Using Drug Overdose Syndromic Surveillance Data to Impact Local Public Health Action. Online Journal of Public Health Informatics, 10(1).


Objective: The overall objective of this session is to discuss opportunities to use drug overdose syndromic surveillance (SyS) data to encourage action among local public health partners.

After this roundtable discussion, participants will be able to:
-Identify opportunities to promote use of drug overdose SyS data to their health partners.
-Plan for potential drug overdose public health interventions.
-Develop relationships with roundtable attendees to continue the conversation and sharing of ideas about use of drug overdose SyS data.
Introduction: Since 2008, drug overdose deaths exceeded the number of motor vehicle traffic-related deaths in Indiana and the gap continues to widen1. As the opioid crisis rages on in the United States the federal government is providing funding opportunities to states, but it often takes years for best practices to be developed, shared, and published.

Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) has developed a standard process for monitoring and alerting local health partners of increases in drug overdoses captured in Indiana’s syndromic surveillance system (ESSENCE). ISDH is launching a pilot project to encourage local partners to start a conversation about overdose response capabilities and planning efforts in their community. Other states have published articles about drug overdose syndromic surveillance (SyS) data being used to inform local public health action, however, the local overdose response activity details were vague 2,3. With the opioid crisis continuing to spiral out of control in the United States, it is imperative to work together as local, state, and national partners to find potential solutions to this crisis.
Description: Overdose Surveillance Epidemiologists from Indiana will lead a roundtable discussion about potential uses of syndromic surveillance (SyS) overdose data to kick-start overdose response and prevention efforts at the local and state level. Discussion will begin by the moderators highlighting best practices for overdose response using SyS data and some Indiana specific initiatives. Topics for the roundtable discussion will include:
-Drug overdose query development and enhancement.
-Dissemination strategies for SyS alerts of suspected drug overdoses.
-Best practices for reporting SyS overdose data to partners and/or public.
-Public health intervention and prevention strategies using real-time hospital emergency department (ED) data.
-Review of national or regional work groups focused on drug overdose SyS.
How the Moderator Intends to Engage the Audience in Discussions on the Topic: The moderators, Mandy Billman and Kayley Dotson, are Overdose Surveillance Epidemiologists for Indiana, and they intend to kick off the discussion by presenting a short handout that will highlight Indiana’s efforts to engage local health partners with near real-time drug overdose data, (i.e. monitoring and alerting local partners, developing a resource tool kit, sharing drug overdose queries, etc.). Mandy and Kayley will also develop a series of questions to actively engage participants in the discussion of bridging the gap from data to action using overdose surveillance data.
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