Importance of Analytics in
By Lesley Clack, ScD, MS, and Jacqueline Woeppel, ScD, MBA, RHIA, CCS
WITH THE OVERWHELMING amount of data available in healthcare, analytics has increasingly become an important tool for organizations. Data analytics can help organizations make informed
decisions and predict what may happen in the future. With the government’s declaration of the opioid crisis as a public health emergency in 2017, the issues of mental health and substance abuse
care delivery were thrust into the spotlight. So how can data analytics be used to improve the delivery of mental health services?
The prevalence of mental health disorders in the United States
is staggering. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness
(NAMI), approximately one in five adults in the US, or 9. 8 million
people, experiences mental illness each year. In addition, serious
mental illness costs the nation $193.2 billion in lost earnings per
year, according to NAMI. Mental illness and substance abuse disorders have a significant impact on productivity, morbidity, and
mortality. Data analytics are an important tool that can be used in
mental health to address the opioid epidemic, enhance the quality of services, and increase access in rural areas.
Addressing the Opioid Epidemic
Opioid abuse and addiction has become a serious national crisis
that is impacting public health as well as the country’s social and
economic welfare. According to the National Institute on Drug
Abuse (NIDA), more than 115 people die each day of opioid over-
dose, and the total estimated economic burden of prescription
opioid abuse is $78.5 billion per year, according to NIDA. Strat-
egies are needed to combat the opioid epidemic and data ana-
lytics should be part of the strategy in reducing abuse of opioids.
Analytics can be used to identify providers who prescribe a high
percentage of opioids and identify pharmacies who fill a high
percentage of opioid prescriptions. This information could also
be used to identify areas where there are large social networks of
individuals who are obtaining opioids. The Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC) has been funding several analyt-
ics-based initiatives to help states fight the opioid crisis, using re-
porting and data analytics with three key programs.
The Prevention for States Program assists with data analytics for
prescription drug management programs to improve use, access,
and data availability, and evaluate prescribing patterns to address
fraud, waste, and abuse and identify provider over-prescription.
The CDC’s Data-Driven Prevention Initiative helps improve
data collection and analysis of opioid use, abuse, and overdose,
assesses how to change behaviors that lead to opioid abuse, and
builds community-based prevention programs.
The Enhanced State Opioid Overdose Surveillance Program improves reporting of nonfatal opioid overdoses using surveillance
of emergency departments and emergency medicine services,
and improves reporting of fatal opioid overdoses. This funding is
part of the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) five-point strategy to fight the opioid epidemic by improving access to
prevention, treatment, and recovery services; targeting availability
and distribution of overdose-reversing drugs; strengthening understanding of the crisis through better public health data and reporting; providing support for cutting-edge research on pain and
addiction; and advancing better practices for pain management.
Enhancing Quality of Services
There has been a growing interest in enhancing mental health
services through reliable quality and outcomes measures to ensure people with serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depressive disorder receive the support, treatment, and recovery they need. Data analytics can help