First Digital Platform to Track and Prevent Drug Overdoses in Texas Launches

The rate of opioid and other drug overdoses is on the rise in Texas, but there has been no statewide system to collect overdose data—until now.

An interdisciplinary team of developers, designers, clinical partners and researchers led by Dell Medical School and the Steve Hicks School of Social Work at The University of Texas at Austin has created a digital reporting and surveillance system to track drug overdoses statewide.

Known as Project CONNECT, the program aims to provide a more complete picture of the overdose crisis in Texas and guide future interventions. The effort is funded by the Texas Targeted Opioid Response (TTOR) program of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The Project CONNECT team has already conducted a four-month pilot with harm reduction groups in Williamson, El Paso, Bexar and Travis counties, and it is now preparing to launch the platform statewide.

“Based on anecdotal evidence, between 50% and 90% of overdoses in Texas go unreported,” said Kasey Claborn, lead researcher on the project and an assistant professor at both Dell Med and the Steve Hicks School of Social Work. “One of the biggest hurdles to solving this crisis is the lack of accurate, consistent and timely statewide data available on both fatal and nonfatal overdoses.”

Project CONNECT will track overdoses by location — as they happen — creating data pools that can be used to understand the scope of the problem and get resources to the areas and people who need them.

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