Preventing Opioid Overdose Deaths

Overview

The San Luis Obispo (SLO) Opioid Safety Coalition, in collaboration with the Cal Poly Digital Transformation Hub (DxHub) powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS) has designed a web app that provides people with access to opioid overdose response training and a complimentary Naloxone kit, an overdose reversal medicine, confidentially delivered to their front doorstep. This empowers people to be ready, able, and equipped to respond to an overdose event enabling them to save a life. The SLO Opioid Safety Coalition is an initiative formed by San Luis Obispo County in 2016 to address the local epidemic of opioid misuse in San Luis Obispo County. The coalition is comprised of a diverse group of community members such as Public Health Department members, law enforcement, and educators who have a passion for reducing prescription drug misuse and overdoses in SLO County

Problem

Opioid abuse is a complex problem that impacts a broad spectrum of society, cutting across income and age groups, making overdose prevention hard to target and address. California experienced 3,244 opioid-related deaths in 2019 with San Luis Obispo County incurring 21 deaths the same year. In 2020, fatal overdoses more than doubled in the county with 55 opioid-related deaths, likely due to increased use and isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Naloxone, an inexpensive opioid overdose reversal medicine that instantly reverses potentially fatal overdose symptoms, is easy to use by the general population with minimal training. Despite this, access and administration of Naloxone by non-traditional first responders, like family and friends, is limited due to a lack of awareness and availability of the medication.

Innovation in Action

The SLO Opioid Safety Coalition collaborated with the DxHub in an innovation process, including participation from community members impacted by the opioid epidemic, to assess how technology could be used to provide overdose awareness and prevention at scale. The team utilized Amazon’s Working Backwards methodology to identify the needs of non-traditional first responders in the context of opioid overdose awareness, response training, and Naloxone access. They focused on community members’ experience to facilitate dialogue about how the stigma surrounding opioid use has affected understanding of the topic. Affected community members on the team shared their strong desire to provide both overdose training and easy, stigma-free access to Naloxone, the opioid overdose reversal drug.

Solution

To provide opioid information, overdose training, and Naloxone access, the team designed a web application that provides educational content and a way for people to access Naloxone near them in SLO County. The system uses Amazon S3 to host pages that contain video and text content to inform people about how to prevent an opioid overdose and how to use Naloxone to assist someone experiencing an overdose.

 It also presents information about SLO area resources that have Naloxone available for pickup or one-click home delivery via the mail. People interested in having Naloxone delivered to them can fill out a form with their name and address with the option to include a cell phone number so they can receive text notifications about the status of their order. This confidential 

information would only be accessible to county health care professionals administering the program.

Naloxone mail order requests are stored in an Amazon DynamoDB table, which is serverless and scalable to accommodate any number of orders. AWS Lambda manages the sharing of data between the React app and Amazon DynamoDB for cost-effective and easy deployment of the solution. When a person creates a new order on the web app or the shipping status is changed, Lambda uses Amazon SNS to send a text message to that person if they have opted in to receive messages. This provides the person using the app with everything they need to respond to an overdose.

Conclusion

Reducing opioid overdose deaths at scale throughout California and the United States will be difficult to achieve and will require both technological and social innovation. Overdose reversal medicines like Naloxone are astonishingly effective at saving lives, but more work needs to be done to connect victims to this life-saving medicine at the time of immediate need. This solution can enable people to have the knowledge and tools needed to save the life of an overdose victim. 

Supporting Documents

The DxHub innovation process based on Amazon’s Working Backwards methodology results in several artifacts that help inform and guide the result. Below is a description of each and their purpose in the process.

Press Release
During the Innovation Workshop, a fictional Press Release is drafted. This is a tool used to define the solution and why it matters to the customer.
Story Board
A series of frames are designed to illustrate the problem and the impact of the solution visually.
Architecture Diagram
A diagram that describes the technical components needed to implement the solution.
Source Code
All of the code and assets developed during the course of creating the prototype.
UI/UX Mockup App
UI/UX Fulfillment Portal
An example of the user interface that demonstrates the solution.

About the DxHub

Cal Poly’s Digital Transformation Hub (DxHub) was one of the earliest collaborations between Amazon Web Services (AWS) and an educational institution focused on innovation and digital transformation. While providing students with real-world learning experiences, the DxHub applies proven innovation methodologies in combination with the deep subject matter expertise of the public sector and the technical expertise of AWS to solve challenging problems in ways not contemplated before. For more information, visit dxhub.calpoly.edu.