Unlike other health threats of recent concern for which widespread mortality was hypothetical, the high fatality burden of opioid overdose crisis is present, steadily growing, and affecting young and old, rural and urban, military and civilian subpopulations. While the background of many public health monitors is mainly infectious disease surveillance, these epidemiologists seek to collaborate with behavioral health and injury prevention programs and with law enforcement and emergency medical services to combat the opioid crisis. Recent efforts have produced key terms and phrases in available data sources and numerous user-friendly dashboards allowing inspection of hundreds of plots. The current effort seeks to distill and present combined fusion alerts of greatest concern from numerous stratified data outputs. Near-term plans are to implement best-performing fusion methods as an ESSENCE module for the benefit of OHA staff and other user groups.
Objective: In a partnership between the Public Health Division of the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), our objective was develop an analytic fusion tool using streaming data and report-based evidence to improve the targeting and timing of evidence-based interventions in the ongoing opioid overdose epidemic. The tool is intended to enable practical situational awareness in the ESSENCE biosurveillance system to target response programs at the county and state levels. Threats to be monitored include emerging events and gradual trends of overdoses in three categories: all prescription and illicit opioids, heroin, and especially high-mortality synthetic drugs such as fentanyl and its analogues. Traditional sources included emergency department (ED) visits and emergency management services (EMS) call records. Novel sources included poison center calls, death records, and report-based information such as bad batch warnings on social media. Using available data and requirements analyses thus far, we applied and compared Bayesian networks, decision trees, and other machine learning approaches to derive robust tools to reveal emerging overdose threats and identify at-risk subpopulations.