HHS Opioid Code-a-Thon
We posed three challenge questions and put out a call. Over 300 computer programmers, public health experts, data scientists, researchers, and innovators responded and on December 6-7, 50 teams participated in the HHS Opioid Code-a-Thon. The purpose of the Code-a-Thon was to develop data-driven solutions to combat the opioid epidemic, building on HHS’ five-part strategy.
The Code-a-Thon took place from December 6 at 1 p.m. through December 7 at 6 p.m. at Hubert H. Humphrey Building in Washington, D.C. This was an in-person event only.
Out of the 50 teams competing, nine teams were selected for the final judging round. The three winners that were awarded $10,000 prizes are:
- In the prevention track coders were asked, “How can you help federal, state, and local stakeholders predict and analyze the supply and movement of legal and illicit opioids?” The Visionist Inc. team came up with a program called Take Back America, to assess the unmet need in five states for takeback programs at pharmacies where unused or unneeded opioids can be returned, therefore taking a source of opioids out of circulation.
- In the treatment track coders were asked, “How can you help federal, state, and local stakeholders improve access to effective treatment and recovery services?” The Origami Innovations team, from New Haven, Connecticut, produced a model designed for real-time tracking of overdoses, allowing first responders and health authorities to be prepared for tracking events such as an outbreak of fentanyl overdoses in communities. This real time tracking would enable area hospitals and local health departments to allocate resources where they are most needed.
- In the usage track coders were asked, “How can you help federal, state, and local stakeholders identify at-risk populations and their underlying risk characteristics of opioid misuse or abuse?” The Opioid Prescriber Awareness Tool (OPAT) team borrowed from military aviation to create an instrument panel providing clinicians with a visual representation of their opioid prescribing patterns compared with those of their peers. The tool also informs the referral process and provides easy access to contact information for multi-modal pain and addiction treatment options in the prescriber's area.
HHS will support the development and testing of the solutions created to be implemented and used to address the opioid crisis.
View the agenda for a detailed schedule of Code-a-Thon activities.
There were three challenge tracks to contribute solutions:
- Treatment Track: In addressing the opioid epidemic, HHS is focused on improving access to treatment and recovery services and promoting evidence-based approaches to reduce opioid overdoses, overdose-related mortality, and the prevalence of opioid use disorder. How can you help federal, state, and local stakeholders improve access to effective treatment and recovery services?
- Usage Track: One of HHS’s key priorities in responding to the opioid epidemic is to strengthen its understanding of the epidemic through better public health data and reporting. A critical element of this understanding relates to knowing who is at risk for opioid misuse or abuse. How can you help federal, state, and local stakeholders identify at-risk populations and their underlying risk characteristics of opioid misuse or abuse?
- Prevention Track: HHS and public health officials across the country are committed to ensuring preventative resources and overdose-reversing drugs are made available to the public. To adequately supply and position resources, federal, state, and local stakeholders are faced with the complex challenge of predicting and identifying the supply of the full range of opioids contributing to the crisis. How can you help federal, state, and local stakeholders predict and analyze the supply and movement of legal and illicit opioids?
Desired Skills and Teams
We sought teams of 3-5 people who meet the following criteria:
- Have skills that match the need: Desired skills are computer programming, data analytics, and end user design.
- Are multidisciplinary: Teams should include diverse expertise in areas relevant to the challenge tracks, such as health policy, analytics, social science, design, and/or engineering
- Are experienced: Teams should bring significant professional experience in their respective fields and/or participation in a public or private sector sponsored Code-a-Thon.
Submit Intent to Participate
We asked that each team is pre-formed and consists of 3-5 individuals. To be considered for participation, each team submitted one form that indicated their intent to participate. We reviewed applications on a rolling basis and invited teams who met the above criteria to participate.
Before the in-person event, HHS made de-identified data from HHS, federal, state, and local government, as well as private industry, available to challenge teams via a portal. Below are some of the federal and HHS data sources that will be available to teams. On the day of the event, HHS released restricted data sets from HHS, states, and the private sector for the purposes of the Code-a-Thon.
Data Sets from Federal Government (excluding HHS):
- O*Net Database (Department of Education)
- National Center for Education Statistics 2016 Outcome Measures (Department of Education)
- Bureau of Economic Analysis Input-Output Accounts (Department of Commerce)
- Current Population Survey (CPS) (Department of Labor)
- Local Unemployment Statistics- Labor force data by county annual averages (Department of Labor)
- National EMS Information System (NEMSIS) (Department of Transportation)
- Mortgage Loan Data (Federal Housing Finance Authority)
Data Sets from HHS:
- Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality)
- Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) (Agency for Health Care Quality and Research)
- CDC WONDER -- Multiple Causes of Death (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- Medicare Part D Opioid Prescribing Data (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services)
- Medicare Part D Prescribing Data (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services)
- Uniform Data Service (Health Resources and Service Administration)
- Area Health Resource File (Health Resources and Services Administration)
- Buprenorphine Treatment Practitioner Locator (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)
- National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)
- Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)
Three prizes of $10,000 each were awarded to winning teams. Learn more about the winning teams.
Learn more about prizes and eligibility to win a prize.
All solutions were judged based on the following judging criteria:
- Innovation: The solution represents a new, original idea that integrates data in an unprecedented or novel way.
- Design: The solution takes into account user-centered design principles. The user interface is visually appealing, well laid out, intuitive, and easy to use and understand.
- Potential for Impact: The solution has a clear user and positions local, state, and/or federal stakeholders to make significant strides in advancing treatment, understanding usage, or improving prevention.
- Technical Achievement: The solution addresses the primary goals of the Code-a-Thon through connecting a variety of health data sources - of which at least one is an HHS dataset - and demonstrates potential for scale and/or broader application in public health.
For more answers to common questions about the event, please visit our FAQs.