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Yale Emergency Physicians Pioneer Transformative Data-to-Action Infrastructure Powering Evidence-Based Care for Opioid Use Disorder

January 23, 2024
by Emma Biegacki

Emergency departments (EDs) are essential but underutilized access points for opioid use disorder diagnosis and treatment. Harnessing electronic health record (EHR) data to drive infrastructure development and service improvement is one promising pathway toward maximizing the potential of EDs to connect individuals with opioid use disorder to care. A new clinical trial funded through the National Institutes of Health Helping End Addiction Long-term (HEAL) Data2Action Initiative proposes to do just that.

The study, entitled “Leveraging Data to Action: Accelerating Emergency Department Opioid Use Disorder Care by Improving Data Access and Infrastructure,” is led by Arjun Venkatesh, MD, MBA, MHS, in collaboration with Kathryn Hawk, MD, MHS, and Richard Andrew Taylor, MD, MHS. Researchers aim to develop a data system to integrate EHR and administrative data from EDs into the Clinical Emergency Department Registry (CEDR), and apply these data to hospital quality improvement initiatives targeting opioid overdose and OUD outcomes. By introducing this novel system that will automate data extraction and create research datasets, researchers hope to improve access to high quality, standardized, near real-time data that can be used to inform opioid use disorder care measures improvement as well as public health surveillance.

“While electronic health records have become nearly ubiquitous in hospitals and EDs over the past decade, our ability to turn this data into actionable information has been limited,” says Venkatesh. “Our project seeks to help EDs and hospitals deliver on the promise of data-driven care by developing and testing quality measurement dashboards that are designed to help our nation’s front-line clinicians.”

Partnering with the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) has been key in conceptualization and design of this project, which represents in many respects the next step in ongoing collaboration to improve the emergency care of individuals with and at-risk for opioid use disorder. Shares Hawk, “it will allow us to integrate the quality measures for emergency opioid prescribing and opioid use disorder care that we developed and piloted in the ACEP Emergency Quality (E-QUAL) Network, including naloxone provision post-overdose and initiation of medications for opioid use disorder, into a national registry of emergency care visits coupled with the development of both ED and public facing opioid use disorder care data dashboards.”

We're bridging the gap between data collection and life-saving care, making every byte of information count in the fight against one of the nation's leading health challenges.

Richard Andrew Taylor, MD, MHS

More than just a repository of information, reflects Taylor, “data infrastructure is the backbone of transformative healthcare.” The researchers hope this undertaking will be empower EDs and hospitals to realize this potential and put it into the hands of their frontline clinicians. “We're setting a new standard in emergency medicine,” continues Taylor. “Our goal is to make data-driven decisions the norm, not the exception. The dashboards we're developing will provide immediate, actionable insights, enabling EDs across the country to respond more effectively to crises like opioid use disorder. We're bridging the gap between data collection and life-saving care, making every byte of information count in the fight against one of the nation's leading health challenges."

More information on this federally funded study may be found by visiting the affiliated NIH RePORTER Profile.

Submitted by Emma Biegacki on January 23, 2024