“One of our most successful analytics projects thus far has been our Alternative to Opioids, or ‘ALTO,’ pilot across emergency departments in Colorado,” Alexandra relays. Traditionally, opioids have been the primary way to treat pain in the emergency department. Unfortunately, even opioids prescribed by well-meaning clinicians can contribute to prescription abuse or serve as a gateway to illegal drugs, as the opioid epidemic across the United States has made tragically clear. According to data from the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Finance, one Colorado resident died every 36 hours from overdose in 2015.
“In January 2017, we launched the Colorado Opioid Safety Collaborative with the goal of reducing opioid administration in emergency departments, where patients are especially vulnerable and were often first exposed to opioids,” says Alexandra. “In order to achieve that goal, we started with 10 emergency departments,” Dominick explains. “We worked with the Colorado Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians to develop new pain protocols that utilized alternatives to opioids for treatments in those ten hospitals. We knew from the get-go that if we wanted to make a convincing case for adopting new protocols throughout the state, we would need to meticulously collect, analyze, and present the outcome data from our study.”
“From a data perspective, things were messy, as they almost always are. We needed to join emergency department data with claims base data to see what was happening across hospitals. Each question seemed to lead to another.
“Fortunately, with Alteryx, it’s easy to follow a line of inquiry, while handling things like duplicates and inconsistencies across data types. Alteryx is also very visual, so we could see trends and changes that were hidden before, such as unusual prescription patterns, Dominick continues.”
“In order to provide a comprehensive review of the effect that the shift from opioids to alternative treatment protocols entailed, we also tracked patient satisfaction,” Alexandra adds. “We leveraged nationally mandated patient survey data on how well they felt their pain was controlled, as well as how satisfied they were overall with the hospital. The results we discovered at the end of our analysis were astounding. We were able to reduce total opioid administration by one third with no measured decrease in patient satisfaction.”
“In the evidence-based world of medicine, our work has garnered a lot of interest and excitement. I think a huge part of that is thanks to the elegant and rapid analysis we were able to perform using Alteryx. When I use Alteryx, it’s like I’m a team of 10 people, rather than just one.
Healthcare Data Analyst
Colorado Hospital Association