The data analytics of substance abuse & treatment

Analytics   |   
Published May 14, 2020   |   

The prevalence and effect of data analytics in the world of healthcare are substantial and have massively improved healthcare for millions across the globe. The value of healthcare analytics is undeniable and it is expected to become a $50 billion dollar industry by 2024. While data analysis has proven itself in the medical field time and time again, there are still many avenues that haven’t been fully explored where data analytics can be massively beneficial.

For instance, substance abuse and treatment might not seem like prime candidates when it comes to utilizing data analytics, however, there are many applications that are revolutionizing how the treatment and monitoring of substance abuse are approached.

Why Looking At The Data Is Important

When it comes to the treatment of substance abuse in the United States, it can be incredibly difficult to look past the human element and focus strictly on the data being generated. After all, the human cost of substance abuse is astronomical and has ripped families and entire communities apart. Nearly 30% of people who are prescribed opioid painkillers for chronic pain misuse them, and it can be hard to look at these people and the struggle they are going through as pure data.

However, when we do take a closer look at the data and take the time to properly analyze it, massive headway can be made in the fight against addiction. Data analytics allow for the tracking of prescription drug misuse and can shine a light on substance abuse behavioral patterns that are not obvious at first glance. Furthermore, analysis of the available data and medical records can show the likelihood of future or current substance abuse and what the chances might be of those with dependency issues of seeking treatment.

The data being used doesn’t even strictly have to come from the world of healthcare in the first place. Social media data analysis can help to predict and monitor potential drug abuse behaviors and can give medical professionals a leg up when it comes to predicting when and if chronic substance abuse is likely to sweep their area. Analytics may not be a panacea for substance abuse treatment but is certainly a powerful tool in the fight against addiction and should be used as such.

Helping To Minimize Cost

Data analytics have already been proven to help reduce healthcare costs when appropriately implemented. Supply chain optimization through analytics helps hospitals and clinics ensure that they have an adequate stock of equipment and pharmaceuticals at any given time. This helps to free up tight budgets and operating costs while allowing medical professionals to deliver the highest quality of care possible on a daily basis.

This is especially important when it comes to the treatment of substance abuse as the economic cost is astronomical as it exists today. In 2016 alone, the treatment and hospitalization costs associated with substance abuse cost over $60 billion, and when factoring all other associated costs from loss of productivity to the effect on the legal system, the costs rocket to well over $1 trillion. These fiscal costs combined with the human cost of substance abuse are outrageous and we should be going to great lengths to reduce these numbers significantly.

Operational gaps and revenue losses for hospitals and treatment centers can be mitigated with the use of data analytics which would, in turn, allow for a more comprehensive and cost-effective treatment strategy for patients. Utilizing data analytics can also help smaller clinics ensure that they are optimally staffed and that healthcare workers are given appropriate flexibility in their scheduling to avoid burnout and continue providing life-saving service to those who need it most.

Data Can Help With The Efficacy Of Treatment

The simple fact of the matter is that data analytics can help those struggling with substance abuse seek out treatment and provides medical professionals with the tools that they need to make sure that the treatment is effective. Real-time data analysis can help pinpoint the need for intervention and to get in front of any new drub-use trends so that hospitals and treatment centers can be better prepared for potential patients.

Furthermore, data analytics can significantly accelerate substance abuse treatment research which would allow for new, more effective treatments and medications to be available sooner. The healthcare community has been engaging in the same treatment programs and using many of the same medications for years and while they can be effective more up-to-date methods are needed to handle the evolving world of substance abuse.

Effectively, data analytics should do for substance abuse treatment what it has been able to do for the healthcare sector overall: improve patient experiences and outcomes. The number of lives lost every day to substance abuse and the emotional and economic toll that it is taking on the American public is unacceptable. Data analytics provide a solution through an increased ability to intervene and prevent substance abuse before it happens, a reduction in cost to hospitals and treatment centers, and more effective treatments overall.