The opioid epidemic is a human tragedy, one that is taking 116 lives daily in the United States. Deaths from opioid use and abuse are up among men and woman of all races and adults of nearly every age. This nationwide epidemic requires that treatment and recovery information be delivered in a coordinated and rapid-fire manner to reduce the number of people falling prey to addiction and help those in the throes of it.
The genesis of opioid addiction is apparent — a significant increase in prescriptions for powerful pain-relieving medications in the late 1990s. Now, nearly 20 years later, the federal government is spending millions of dollars to fight the addictive grip of opioid painkillers. Yet despite current government initiatives, overdose deaths from opioids, including prescription opioids and heroin, killed more than 42,000 people in 2016, with approximately 40 percentof those deaths caused by opioids prescribed by a doctor.
Barriers to care and the cost of inaction
Treatment for those affected by addiction remains a problem, as many citizens and their families lack access to educational materials on the care and treatment of addiction. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is the most effective treatment vector, but it still rarely reaches people in need. Also, one-third of patients in programs that offer MAT ultimately do not receive it.
It’s not just a human tragedy — it’s an economic one as well. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that the total “economic burden” of prescription opioid misuse alone in the United States is $78.5 billion a year, including the costs of healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement.
On the front lines of this battle is the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Since 2017, HHS has invested over $1 billion in opioid-specific funding, including funds allocated to state and local governments as well as civil society groups. Despite the existence of a well-defined plan for funding treatment and recovery, however, outreach has been a significant challenge.
Outreach as a strategy to combat opioid addiction is already gaining support. For example, the City of Philadelphia is using funds for opioid surveillance to collect data and is appealing to local doctors to prescribe fewer painkillers. Philadelphia has also developed a public education campaign to encourage Philadelphians to carry naloxone, an opioid overdose-reversing agent.
Transforming outreach with digital marketing platforms
Agencies must take a more intensive approach to opioid education and outreach. As the public sector embraces digital transformation for efficiency, agencies that touch the public, opioid users, or providers should likewise embrace digital tools for campaign development and automation. Digital marketing platforms like Adobe Experience Cloud provide an integrated set of solutions that can manage outreach analytics, helping agencies understand their outreach impact and ROI across digital and offline channels.
Effective outreach programs must include more than just those who are directly affected by opioid use. A highly orchestrated campaign can help government, clinicians, pharmaceutical companies, law enforcement, community organizations, and individuals connect with one another and with relevant, timely information about treatment and prevention services. Delivering the right message to the right person at the right time is key for better engagement and improved results.
Traditional methods of content distribution rely on citizens and caregivers to seek out and download content, with little to no follow-up information. Digital solutions like Adobe Experience Cloud can be used to launch campaigns with personalized content based on who is responding— and whether they are looking for prevention, treatment, or recovery information. This type of outreach has already been tried and tested, for example, in smoking cessation campaigns launched by the U.S. Public Health Service in 1964.
Closing the information gap with customized information
Lack of access to information is a roadblock to fighting opioid addiction. For example, it’s estimated that as many as 60 percent of rural counties in the U.S. lack physicians with MAT qualifications for opioid disorder or DEA waivers to prescribe buprenorphine. Yet the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 enables qualified caregivers like nurse practitioners to obtain a waiver so that they can prescribe buprenorphine. For these communities, digital content can play a key role in raising awareness and helping provide solutions.
With Adobe Experience Cloud, outreach campaigns can be integrated with user profiles, centralized assets, and tagging that can be shared across federal, state, and local agencies to orchestrate a more strategic approach. This form of outreach delivers targeted, customized content while automating the task, minimizing the impact on staff.
Citizens who are seeking prevention and recovery information can download a PDF as an initial touchpoint and provide contact information via Adobe Experience Manager Forms, so subsequent content can be delivered that provides more detailed treatment advice and information. Performance analytics like that offered by Adobe Analytics Cloud can be used to measure the effectiveness of content to see what’s resonating versus what needs to be revisited. Also crucial is the ability to track a citizen’s outreach journey, leveraging the critical capability of predictive analytics, which is built into the Adobe Analytics Cloud engine, to nurture the relationship.
One-size prevention and recovery advice doesn’t fit all — and that’s also true for content delivery. Those who are seeking relevant information can benefit from personalized digital experiences that connect them with the resources they need — when they need them — for prevention and treatment information. The ability to educate and serve constituents with a single, end-to-end solution for recruiting, educating, on-boarding, and personalizing communications can result in greater citizen satisfaction with agency interactions.
For outreach campaigns, tools like those offered in Adobe Marketing Cloud can be used to manage personalized experiences across any channel (online or offline), so campaign managers can optimize interactions on a granular level. For example, a social marketing campaign targeting citizens who are seeking prevention and recovery information can push social content developed with Adobe tools and use metrics to measure results. Data can be safeguarded via user-authenticated portals, helping to ensure citizen privacy.
As more money is poured into opioid education outreach campaigns, higher expectations for the effectiveness of those funding dollars will surface. Manual, previous-generation outreach tactics will fall short of the ability to deliver content ROI or analytics that show value for the spend. And those legacy tactics will not be able to keep pace with content demand. Digital marketing platforms with authentication and lifecycle management, like Adobe Experience Cloud, can provide federal, state, and local entities with the campaign automation and analytics essential for success, while driving the efficiency required by digital transformation initiatives. To learn more about the use of Adobe Experience Cloud for government services, contact 1-800-87ADOBE or visit the Government solutions page.