For Immediate Release - November 29, 2016

Baker-Polito Administration Releases Data Visualization Website to Illustrate Impact of Opioid Epidemic

Online resource offers new ways for residents and policymakers to understand opioid crisis in Massachusetts

BOSTON — The Baker-Polito Administration today released The Massachusetts Opioid Epidemic: a Data Visualization of Findings from the Chapter 55 Report. The visualization can be viewed at www.mass.gov/chapter55.

This website is designed to complement the recent release of the Chapter 55 Report, an unprecedented public/private partnership that reviewed opioid-related data sets from a variety of sources to better understand the opioid epidemic. The report was a product of the Chapter 55 of the Acts of 2015 signed into law by Governor Baker in August 2015.

“This project represents our latest effort to use and present data to better understand the opioid epidemic and inform our residents about one of the great public health challenges of our time,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “It is also an example of drawing talent from across state government and working with our external partners to create a tool that makes this important report accessible to more people.”

The online site, produced by a MassIT and the Massachusetts Department Public Health (DPH) partnership, is an online, multimedia resource which illustrates and explains the complex nature of the disease of addiction, the role that legal prescription medications and illegal substances play in the epidemic, its impact across the demographic spectrum in Massachusetts, and what steps are being taken to address this fundamental public health crisis in communities across the state.

“The Chapter 55 report was truly groundbreaking in the depth of its analysis and its use of advanced data to understand the underlying causes of opioid-related deaths,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders. “We hope that this new way of communicating the data helps underscore the challenges ahead and our resolve for addressing this crisis.”

Led by DPH, the Chapter 55 analysis involved 10 datasets from 5 different government agencies. In total, 29 groups from government, higher education, and the private sector provided information and expertise. This level of partnership is what makes the Chapter 55 report pdf format of Chapter 55 Overdose Study - DPH Leg Report
file size 1MB docx format of                             Chapter 55 Overdose Study - DPH Leg Report                file size 2MB a milestone achievement in Massachusetts. Before this legislation was passed, such a comprehensive look at the opioid epidemic in the Commonwealth would not have been possible.

“This innovative tool takes us beyond charts and statistics in a way that allows even greater insight into the devastating impact of the opioid epidemic in Massachusetts,” said Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH. “We hope it will be a useful resource to help inform policymakers, stakeholders, and community members understand where we are, and how we move forward.”

The online storytelling and data visualization tools were designed and developed by MassIT’s newly created Digital Services department.

“The pervasiveness of the Opioid epidemic requires us to use every tool in our arsenal including data and technology,” said Holly St. Clair, Chief Digital Officer of MassIT, the organization which oversees all information technology initiatives within state agencies in Massachusetts. “This digital data story is just one example of digital improvements the Commonwealth is undertaking to meet our residents’ evolving needs and digital expectations.”

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