Austin-Travis County EMS uses new software to tackle drug overdoses

Austin-Travis County Chief Medical Officer Dr. Mark Escott said overdoses doubled in Austin in March.

“Our base average is 60 (overdoses). We’ve seen 120 in the last month… In the past we’ve seen overdoses related to heroin, narcotics use. Now that fentanyl tampers with other things like pills, like crack, powder cocaine, like as well as methamphetamine — we’re seeing overdoses in all kinds of patients with substance use disorders,” Escott explained.

Austin-Travis County EMS uses Austin-based ESO’s Electronic Health Record to track patient information. The software allows first responders and public health officials to track overdose outcomes and location.

“One of the challenges we have and in creating effective public policy is that data lives in different data sets and they don’t talk to each other.” Escott said, adding that “ESO is starting to gather some of this data.”

Prior to the EHR, physicians were not informed of the patient’s progress.

“Imagine being a doctor and diagnosing your patient, but you never knew if that was really what was wrong with them,” said Allen Johnson, ESO’s chief product officer.

Escott says Austin-Travis County hopes to use EHR data to create a heat map “to learn where overdose hotspots are, which helps us drive public policy in the right places.”

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