The grant will allow the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) Pharmacy Division to combat the ongoing, nationwide opioid crisis at the state and local levels. As one of the leading states experiencing a high rate of opioid misuse and overdose, Alabama (AL) intends to improve surveillance and data reporting to proactively address this growing concern. This data will, in turn, be used to aid department and community partners in a comprehensive effort to target state specific areas of need. This will be accomplished through the grant’s seven strategies: (1) collect and disseminate timely emergency department data on suspected all drug, heroin, and all stimulant overdoses; (2) collect and disseminate descriptions of drug overdose death circumstances using death certificates and medical examiner/coroner data; (3) implement innovative surveillance to support the Notice of Funding Opportunity interventions; (4) improve the AL Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP); (5) integrate state and local prevention and response efforts; (6) establish linkages to care; and (7) advance providers and health systems support.
Surveillance strategies (1–3) will focus on obtaining quality data through use of more innovative data sharing entities and sources. Timely reports will improve inter-departmental communication and utilization with the goal of early detection of overdose outbreaks, timelines, or hotspot areas. Prevention strategies
(4–7) will use data-driven evidence to support prevention and response efforts, identifying dangerous prescribing and dispensing behaviors, and expanding the bank of resources available to the communities. Large emphasis will be placed on further development of the state’s PDMP capabilities, allowing for smoother analytic processes. Efforts aimed at addressing AL regions with significant health disparities or outlier data will receive high priority. Funding will build department capacity by expanding staff needs and advancing external collaboration, while building on current staff expertise. Multi-modal media campaigns and further advancement of overdose protocols and training will be directed at increasing opioid awareness at all levels of prescribing and use. Quality data will drive continuous quality improvements throughout.
By meeting these grant strategies, ADPH’s goals are to: (1) increase integrated, timely, and data-driven efforts implemented by state and local public health partners in order to improve prevention and response action in AL; (2) increase knowledge and training among health professionals regarding overdose and opioid misuse disorder; (3) decrease overdose deaths due to suspected opioid use and misuse in AL; and (4) decrease the rate of emergency department events involving suspected overdose, especially in high drug trafficking areas.