Qlarion’s Virginia Data Revolution Series Tackles the Virginia Opioid Epidemic


Qlarion’s Virginia Data Revolution Series Tackles the Virginia Opioid Epidemic

There is an abundance of data that government agencies have at their disposal and the interest in using that data to combat the opioid crisis is growing. Earlier this May, Qlarion hosted its third event in the Virginia Data Revolution series to discuss this very crisis. This recent session focused on how to combat the opioid epidemic through analytics and the subsequent value generated from these efforts.

Handling the Opioid Crisis

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 155 people throughout the United States die every day after overdosing on opioids. According to the Virginia Department of Health data, 1,445 individuals died from an opioid overdose in Virginia during 2017.

Access to the right information can empower medical professionals, members of the criminal justice and court system, and local treatment centers to make important decisions as they fight this epidemic – allowing them to learn and adapt to improve their response to the opioid crisis.

By bringing together information from many different data sources throughout the Commonwealth, a more complete picture of the magnitude of the opioid crisis can be realized, and a plan can be developed to address it.

Learning from the Experts

The Virginia Data Revolution event featured a panel of experts who discussed how interagency data sharing and collaboration helped them tackle and address issues relating to the opioid crisis in Virginia. The distinguished panel included:

  • Thomas Fitzpatrick, Division Director, Programs and Services, Virginia DCJS
  • Jodi Manz, Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services for the Commonwealth of Virginia
  • Lauren Cummings, Executive Director, Northern Shenandoah Valley Substance Abuse Coalition
  • Moderator: Carlos Rivero, Chief Data Officer for the Commonwealth of Virginia

Specifically, Thomas Fitzpatrick shared information on the federal grant DCJS received for a pilot project to construct a data-sharing platform intended to improve Virginia’s response to the opioid crisis. In addition to covering how everyone within his agency got involved and engaged, he shared information on the initial grant, which stakeholders were involved, and how they nurtured an enterprise analytics culture. Virginia’s success with this project will serve as a model for other state governments that seek DOJ grants for their data-sharing projects.

Jodi Manz frequently speaks out about how critical data is to the nationwide response to this epidemic, and this session was no exception. She shared her experience in coordinating the opioid crisis response among Virginia’s state agencies as a conduit between the Governor’s office and Health and Human Services. She discussed how agencies were able to come on board at a local level, and how the key to this local success was on-the-ground data.

Lauren Cummings shared some unexpected ways in which her organization has used data analytics to take a deeper look into the opioid epidemic. For instance, her team discovered that a shift in stimulant drug usage is having more of an effect than opioid use strictly due to the types of crimes committed while on these drugs. They are now using the platform to identify how to get ahead of the problem instead of taking a more reactive approach.

Collaboration Across Agencies

Overall, Carlos Rivero moderated a progressive discussion with wide attendance from state and local agencies ranging from the Department of Corrections, General Services, Virginia State Police, Department of Health, Virginia Housing Development Authority, and more. Based on the feedback we received, attendees are interested in this approach and excited to participate in future data sharing programs. If you’d like to get involved and learn more about data sharing – now is the time.

If you have ideas or suggestions for future Virginia Data Revolution events, please email , and we’ll be in touch.