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Artificial intelligence provides promising results in overdose prevention


Artificial intelligence is becoming a powerful tool in the healthcare industry as proven recently by the ‘Hotspotting the Overdose Epidemic’ program, a data-driven overdose prevention and outreach initiative.

The initiative uses AI algorithms and predictive analytics developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management to curb the overdose epidemic.

The Hotspotting Program greatly benefits drug addicts, who are prone to overdose from lack of care due to socio-economic backgrounds. The pilot program’s success in Staten Island demonstrated its potential to significantly change the trajectory of New York City’s opioid epidemic.

Since the pandemic, the number of overdose deaths has increased exponentially. According to the New York Times, nearly 110,000 overdose deaths occurred in 2022.

Staten Island was selected as the experimental group for this program because, despite its socio-economically and demographically diversity, the borough suffers disproportionally from the opioid overdose crisis.     

Staten Island Performing Provider System, a division of Northwell Health, leads the Hotspotting program with a $3 million grant.

Essentially, the Hotspotting program is a data-driven care coordination effort. The analytics model incorporates known risk factors for overdoses and flags the most at-risk people.

The training of the model and the altering risk factors were decided by the SIPPS’s medical database and health records. The outreach aspect of this program then provides those individuals with help through a proactive care management model.

The AI works with social services to efficiently distribute and prioritize the limited resources to those greatest in need. Drug users who have been flagged at high risk of overdose are connected to recovering addicts in a peer recovery plan.     

It is important that active users have access to someone with experience. Current drug users gain a support system when they are connected with people who have successfully recovered from the troubled lifestyle of drug addiction.

There are four core values of the Hotspotting the Overdose Epidemic Initiative: predictive analysis, person-centered care management model, contingency management and value-based outcomes.     

Contingency management uses behavioral economics for recovering users to strategize and maintain healthy habits and care plan routines. This is crucial to stop individuals from relapsing to opioid use.

The value-based outcome phase focuses on switching out of the traditional ‘fee-for-service’ model to value-based care, meaning that the program will accept alternative payment methods that promote continuous care until the end of recovery during rehabilitation treatments.

Value-based care is effective because it provides recovering addicts from low-income backgrounds a bigger chance of success as the outcome is focused more on sustained recovery rather than long and costly hospitalizations.

The Hotspotting program has been the most innovative healthcare attempt of recent years. This program has demonstrated incredible results in the first pilot run on Staten Island with an 81% decrease in non-fatal overdoses.

Additionally, the program reduced substance use disorder related ER visits by 56% and inpatient hospitalizations by 43%. The outreach and prevention initiative were met proving its innovative approach to curb drug use is successful! The initiative is a milestone in the war on opioid abuse in the United States.

“If we can do this on a large scale, we can save thousands of lives,” Joseph Conte, executive director of Northwell Health’s Performing Provider System said.

667 addicts voluntarily agreed and signed up for the certified peer advocates plan and substance abuse counselors in outpatient clinics. It is evident that drug abusers want to recover just as badly as the outreach program wants to help.

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