Opioid battle in region getting boost from big data

A big tech power is coming to Dayton through the most ambitious project yet undertaken by a healthcare affiliate of Google — tackling the opioid crisis.

Verily - a company formerly known as Google Life Sciences - announced this week it is planning to operate an opioid rehab campus, to be called OneFifteen, through a partnership with the Dayton region’s two largest hospital systems, Premier Health and Kettering Health Network. OneFifteen will start taking patients this spring.

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The announcement this week drew national media coverage, and the leader of one of the largest Ohio hospitals left that job to become CEO of OneFifteen.

The campus is still being developed. It will initially include a 10,000-square-foot building on Hopeland Street and 22,000 square feet of leased space in Kindred Hospital, at the corner of Albany Street and Edwin C. Moses Boulevard.

The final campus will have a behavioral health treatment center, rehabilitation housing and will treat patients regardless of their insurance status.

“Recovery, as many of us know, is not a 28-day process. It requires not only medical treatment but also longer term support to build resilience. It requires stable housing, employable skills and transitions back to family life,” said Marti Taylor, president and CEO of OneFifteen.

Taylor previously led Ohio State University’s University Hospital and was COO of the OSU Ross Heart Hospital.

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Anonymous patient data will be gathered “to inform future care and add to the growing knowledge on the most effective practices and evidence-based principles,” according to Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine, which is a partner on the project.

“This effort will implement tangible and realistic community solutions,” said Julie Gentile, professor and chair of the Department of Psychiatry.

The mental health and addiction treatment fields have not historically done a great job using patient level data to fine tune treatment, said Adam Brooks, director of research at Philadelphia-based Public Health Management Corp. His work has included research to improve substance use disorder treatment.

He said behavioral health providers collect data when they initially assess someone or when they need to satisfy insurance requirements, but providers don’t do a great job using real-time patient data to monitor recovery and refine their approach over time.

“We are constantly relying on anecdotal success rather than practice-based evidence, which we could get if we were better at marshaling data,” Brooks said.

Some of the challenges are low funding. Also the outcomes of addiction therapy can be harder to measure and quantify compared to other medical fields.

“It’s always been a difficult task and because it is a difficult task it has been difficult to get the field to prioritize,” Brooks said.

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A promising aspect of the OneFifteen campus and its plans to analyze data is that it will have different levels of care together on one campus, he said. For policy makers and researchers, it can be difficult to put data together when care is disconnected and records aren’t always shared between rehabilitation facilities, outpatient care and other providers. OneFifteen data will be able to measure outcomes as patients move through different layers of treatment and recovery.

“It may not matter for the first patients that are willing to contribute their data, but for the patients that come after them, it will matter very much,” he said.

Jonas Thom, vice president of behavioral health at Dayton-based CareSource, said there need to be more tools for feedback and coordination of care to keep up with innovation and investment in physical health.

“We definitely see a need for more evidence and technology and innovation in behavioral health and in substance abuse treatment,” Thom said.

In an example of how technology and data can be used to improve outcomes in behavioral health, CareSource used claims data and reached out to providers, which contributed to a 50 percent reduction in the amount of opioids prescribed to its members company-wide by the end of last year.

What is Verily?

The full 4.5 acre campus is expected to be completed in 2020. It is in the Carillon neighborhood near the Elizabeth Place medical facility.

Along with the OneFifteen buildings there will also be some “mixed use” buildings. Developers say they don’t have specific plans yet on what could be in the buildings, though OneFifteen officials are looking for uses that would complement the organization and also address community needs. OneFifteen is set up as a non-profit organization, according to the company.

Clinical care will be provided by Samaritan Behavioral Health, which is part of Dayton-based Premier Health, a partner on the project. Taylor said about 40 to 60 people will be hired to work at the center.

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Project officials say that if the approach is successful, the project could serve as a prototype for similar efforts to combat the opioid crisis in other cities around the United States. Bloomberg reported that taking on the opioid epidemic may be Verily’s “most ambitious undertaking yet.”

It’s not clear how the project will be funded or its revenue projections.

Officials with Verily, Premier and Kettering Health declined to detail how much each partner is contributing, but said all the partners are making “significant” contributions. Alexandria Real Estate Equities, a publicly traded real estate investment trust, will develop the campus.

“This is not a short-term undertaking and it will require deep commitment from all of the partners and the broader community to have an impact on this complex issue,” Verily said in a press release. “We hope that the work of OneFifteen will be a cornerstone in advancing the field of addiction medicine, demonstrating the value of investing in behavioral health and improving the health of communities.”

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OneFifteen is gearing up as Dayton organizations are already making progress in responding to the opioid overdose crisis — work that’s been nationally recognized for its early progress in lowering the number of overdose deaths.

The opioid overdose fueled 566 accidental overdose deaths in Montgomery County in 2017, according to Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County. The preliminary number of overdose deaths for 2018 is 292.

The region adopted an emergency management approach and created the Community Overdose Action Team. Services such as syringe exchange programs and overdose reversal medications worked to reduce harm and death from addiction. There have been local efforts to help those in recovery find work and receive services so they can sustain recovery.

OneFifteen’s investment will be building on existing efforts and innovations, said Thom, pointing to efforts by groups like Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County and Montgomery County Alcohol, Drug Addiction & Mental Health Services

“I think we’ve done a lot of great things. I certainly welcome this continued investment in this space,” Thom said.

OneFifteen will incorporate an effort to open a regional crisis stabilization unit and detox center that has been underway for more than a year. The center was proposed as a $4.3 million project by the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association and received $800,000 in the state capital budget approved in 2018.

Verily will bring funding and its expertise to the project. Originally called Google Life Sciences, Verily was launched in 2015 and is a subsidiary of Alphabet. Prior to this project the company has worked on life science hardware and software projects. Its stated goal is to make health data useful.

On Jan. 3, Verily announced it raised a $1 billion in an investment round, saying the money will support growth areas such as "investments in strategic partnerships, global business development opportunities, and potential acquisitions."

It is already involved in projects to tackle other big health care problems. It's working on a project to fight disease-spreading mosquitoes through the release of sterile mosquitoes to eliminate the ones that carry disease. It has designed utensils for people with tremors and software for diabetes management.

Danielle Schlosser, senior clinical scientist at Verily, said the company brings experience to OneFifteen in developing health platforms and leveraging data.

“We’re looking to lean on that expertise and apply it to the learning health system framework that OneFifteen will be adopting,” Schlosser said.

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