LEXINGTON, Ky. – Through the recently awarded $23 million Overdose Data to Action (OD2A) grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the creators of FindHelpNowKy.org are showing 14 other states how to develop and implement the successful online tool for their populations.
Launched in February 2018, FindHelpNowKy.org is a real-time substance use disorder treatment availability locater and information center for Kentucky. The site was developed by the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center (KIPRC) working for the Kentucky Department of Public Health in partnership with the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy , the Kentucky Department for Behavioral Health, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities , and Operation UNITE.
FindHelpNowKY.org includes treatment providers and openings across Kentucky, including community mental health centers, private, nonprofit and faith-based treatment providers, and providers of medication for opioid use disorder. It takes into consideration the substance(s) being used, payment options including commercial and public insurance programs, gender identity, preference for in- or out-patient treatment and needed co-occurring treatments such as mental health care, plus 30 more criteria.
“This platform is unique in the nation – there was nothing that existed that could meet the needs of our state at the time, so we took it upon ourselves and came up with the idea,” said Terry Bunn, director of KIPRC and lead investigator on the OD2A grant. “We’re not guiding people or suggesting to anyone the type of treatment that they need. What our website offers is based on what they desire themselves.”
The site also provides daily availability information for treatment openings to enable rapid admission to substance use disorder treatment programs – a critical feature for someone with opioid use disorder who is ready to seek treatment. The project was inspired in part by interviews with stakeholders, including Bunn’s own primary care physician.
“When I talked to him and asked him, ‘What is the biggest gap you find in getting patients to substance use disorder treatment?’ He said, ‘The biggest gap is that it can take my nurse up to eight hours to find a facility with an opening for this patient, and even then, they might not accept the insurance they have,’” Bunn said. “Or, once they make the arrangements, it turns out that opening is no longer available.”
Recently, representatives from KIPRC hosted a two-day training in Lexington to educate 14 other states on developing their own similar online tools to link patients to treatment. Representatives from Alaska, California, Delaware, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin attended to learn more about how to build and use the website, practices for marketing the platform, how to leverage public safety partnerships, and more.
The response to developing their own version of FindHelpNowKy.org was overwhelmingly positive, Bunn said.
“They loved the platform, and they’re excited to bring back all the information from the presentations to their own decision makers,” Bunn said.
Since its activation, more than 240,000 unique users have visited FindHelpNowKY.org. Though the most visitors have come from Fayette and Jefferson counties, people from all 50 states have visited the site. The website has had more than 85,000 unique searches for treatment facilities, and more than 200 people have been successfully placed in treatment through the site.
Though individuals can perform their own searches on FindHelpNowKY.org, partnering with organizations to expand use of the tool is key – currently all Kentucky State Police use the website when people brought in want to seek treatment. Bunn says they will focus upcoming efforts on outreach to health professionals, not just targeting primary care providers, but also emergency departments.
“The time period where individuals may be most receptive to substance use disorder treatment is in the emergency department after an overdose,” Bunn said. “Timely linkage of patients to addiction treatment facilities and initiation of medications after an overdose is critical at this point.”
— Allison Perry, UK Now