CARY — CaroNova has announced the launch of a new centralized library of strategies, tools, and resources to aid hospitals and health systems with their response to the devastating opioid epidemic that persists in the Carolinas. The Opioid Library, co-designed with experts across North Carolina and South Carolina, will pair access to best practices and implementation support to accelerate health systems’ adoption of life-saving interventions to support the communities they serve.
There has been an increase in overdose deaths in both North Carolina and South Carolina in recent years. North Carolina saw a year-over-year increase of more than 700 overdose deaths from illicit substances and/or medications from 2020 to 2021 and an increase of more than 500 opioid overdose emergency department visits, with 2022 numbers looking to show this continued trend. In total, more than 32,000 North Carolinians lost their lives to drug overdose between 2000-2021.
In South Carolina, there was an increase of more than 600 overdose deaths from 2019 to 2020. Opioids were involved in 1,400 of the 1,734 S.C. drug overdose deaths in 2020, making them among the main drivers of overdose deaths in the state. Both North and South Carolina also had higher than average rates of prescription opioids dispensed per capita in 2020 — 56.6 per 100 people in South Carolina and 52.8 per 100 people in North Carolina, compared to the U.S. average of 43.3 per 100 people.
Health systems have an opportunity to play a large part in curbing this epidemic and they, along with local communities in the Carolinas, have been working diligently on wide-ranging solutions to address the opioid crisis. This new online opioid resource repository establishes a central library housing useful and effective resources from national, state, and local organizations for hospitals to easily access. Implementation support will also be available to help hospitals in the Carolinas with adopting these best practices and can be requested through a form on the site. Having this easily accessible and comprehensive repository will promote collaborative efforts and the dissemination of effective tools.
“There is a great deal of information out there about opioid use disorder treatment and prevention, but it can be difficult and time-consuming to sift through it all to find what will be most impactful for the patients we serve. This resource library creates an excellent go-to site where frontline hospital staff and leadership in the Carolinas can find relevant and carefully curated resources to help improve care and outcomes,” said Dr. Larry Greenblatt, a professor in the Department of Medicine at the Duke University School of Medicine who also serves as a medical director in the Duke Population Health Management Office and as chair of the N.C. Medicaid Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee.
The Opioid Library was developed through a collaborative co-design process with subject matter experts from health systems across the Carolinas in partnership with the North Carolina Healthcare Association and South Carolina Hospital Association and is the first output from CaroNova’s Opioid Stewardship Accelerator project. The Opioid Stewardship Accelerator is aimed at advancing alternatives to opioids, accelerating the adoption of best practices, and improving care continuity and coordination among hospitals and community partners as part of a communitywide, patient-centric system of care. CaroNova Accelerator projects are designed to drive widespread change by leveraging CaroNova’s resources to quickly convene partners and catalyze adoption for lasting change.
“We got involved in this project because we wanted to share the best practices that have been effective in our health system and to learn from others in the Carolinas about how we can better prevent and treat opioid use disorder,” said Dr. Constance Guille, professor and director of the Women’s Reproductive Behavioral Health Division, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Medical University of South Carolina. “The entire healthcare community is trying to find the best solutions to manage the devastating impact of the opioid epidemic and to address emerging problems such as fentanyl-related overdoses and deaths. This repository of resources creates a space for best practices to be shared and scaled across the Carolinas.”
As both North Carolina and South Carolina plan for effective utilization of opioid settlement dollars, the resources in the Opioid Library are intended to align with and complement these state settlement strategies, so that by using them, hospitals are well positioned to participate in those state and local initiatives and be successful in addressing this persistent community health issue.
“Systemic barriers have often prevented hospitals from implementing opioid use disorder best practices, including historical silos, uncoordinated care delivery, workforce shortages, and stigma. The COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbated these challenges, putting immense strain on hospitals and on patients. By establishing this highly vetted repository of best practices and pairing that with technical assistance to ensure that these tools are successfully utilized, health systems will be better equipped to improve opioid use disorder outcomes,” said Jai Kumar, deputy director of CaroNova.
The Opioid Library can be accessed at opioidlibrary.caronova.org.