According to a new report on preventable deaths from the National Safety Council, the odds of an American dying from an opioid overdose is far higher than dying from a car crash.
The federal government, via the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has stressed the importance of making this substance abuse crisis a priority, and encourages community stakeholders and organizations to find alternative strategies and solutions that promote and/or improve effective prevention, treatment, and recovery.
Banyan Health Systems, a not-for-profit healthcare provider, did just that by hosting an opioid panel discussion on Jan. 15 that addressed the opioid crisis, lifesaving strategies and technology to help communities fight the opioid epidemic. The event spotlighted ODSave LLC, a technology company offering software solutions to the opioid crisis.
Among the attendants to this event were first responders such as members of city and county law enforcement, ER doctors, mental health counselors, and representatives from local schools. Banyan’s president and CEO, Bruce Hayden, hosted the event.
A panel of experts included Banyan’s chief medical officer, Dr. Moraima Trujillo, and members of the ODSave team.
During the discussion, Dr. Trujillo spoke about the medical and physiological consequences of opioid overdosing and stressed the importance of paying closer attention to fentanyl, which has been associated with recent overdoses, particularly because it is produced in clandestine laboratories and mixed with heroin in a powder form.
Mixing fentanyl with street-sold heroin markedly amplifies their potency and potential dangers. The medical expert stressed the fact that when someone overdoses, they are not necessarily trying to commit suicide. More importantly, the panel underscored the importance of reducing the medical response to an overdosing individual since someone in a state of opioid overdose has only minutes to live.
In this context, event participants learned how ODSave, a cell phone application has been designed to improve emergency response services and ultimately save more lives.
ODSave works to improve the emergency response system in relation to opioid overdose deaths by linking a Narcan supplier to an overdose patient in a fraction of a minute and still alerting the proper authorities. By creating this network of Narcan providers and connecting them to opioid users in need of Narcan in a timely manner, the traditional system of EMS responders is not overloaded, which is currently the case in South Florida and any other community affected by the epidemic.
Furthermore, the application is set up in a way in which the proper authorities are still called to the scene, providing status updates to all users (the person who initiated the alert and the parties responding to the alerts) and sending detailed information that is useful to responders.
Currently, the app is being introduced nationwide, and while it is still in testing mode, they expect to have it fully running by mid-2019. As the responder and requester network grows, prices may vary based on system demands and resource allocation. For now, it will cost first-responders $1 per month for an annual license, and there may be setup fees based on the responder’s network.
It is important to note that this mobile application was not intended to replace calling 9-1-1 for emergencies. For the foreseeable future, the only limitation or drawback for ODSave, and other similar technologies, has been the money needed for marketing something that should become the norm for all first responders and civilians alike.
Banyan Health Systems has been advancing the health and well-being of South Florida’s diverse community since 1970 by providing quality, integrated health care in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Over 17,000 patients rely on their quality, patient-centered care. Banyan services include: Pediatrics, Women’s Health Services, Geriatric Care, Psychiatric Services, Substance Abuse Treatment, Crisis Stabilization, Residential Treatment, Pharmacy & Laboratory Services, Case Management, and Research.