Searchable app identifies treatment services that meet individual needs
A team of professors and students from Cleveland State University have developed a new Web application that will improve access to drug treatment services, reduce wait times and better ensure that individuals get the help they need. Drughelp.care allows substance abuse treatment agencies to log the services they provide and quickly and easily update their available treatment slots and the length of their waitlist on a daily basis.
The app is fully searchable, allowing treatment providers, first responders and individuals seeking treatment to find available services that match need at the click of a button. It was launched August 28 at a meeting of the Cuyahoga County Opiate Taskforce and is currently being utilized by treatment professionals across the region.
The app was developed by affiliates of CSU’s Center for Behavioral Health Sciences as a component of a strategic partnership with St. Vincent’s Charity Medical Center to address opiate addiction in Northeast Ohio. The effort sought to address grassroots calls for a user-friendly tool to make open treatment slots in our community publicly available on a daily basis. Team leaders Dr. Miyuki Tedor, associate professor of sociology and criminology and Dr. Patricia Stoddard Dare, professor of social work and coordinator of CSU’s Chemical Dependency Counseling Certificate program, met with over 100 community stakeholders over the course of a year to develop the specifications for the app. The technical specifications were then designed by two CSU software development engineering students under the mentorship of CSU Computer Science Professor Dr. Wenbing Zhao.
“This app can make the service delivery system significantly more efficient,” notes Stoddard Dare. “If agencies devote 1-2 hours for the initial one time set up and less than 2 minutes per day to update their available treatment slots, I would expect them to receive hours of time savings each week. Time that social workers were spending on the phone trying to find aftercare for their clients, they can now spend directly on counseling.”
Two enrollment specialists are currently being provided through the project to assist treatment providers with initial registration and training. Agencies can register seven different types of services they provide such as assessment, outpatient treatment, intensive outpatient treatment and sober living. The effort is made possible thanks to a grant from the Woodruff Foundation.
“Quick and easy access to treatment can mean life or death for those struggling with addiction,” notes Orlando Howard, director of outpatient treatment services and quality improvement at St. Vincent’s Rosary Hall Addiction Treatment Center. “The collective impact of providers sharing information and availability of services is a game-changer.”
"Drughelp.care is already becoming an essential tool for first responders, who act as access points for treatment services,” adds Berea Police Sgt. Pat Greenhill, coordinator of the Safe Passages Initiative, a local program which helps link individuals struggling with substance use with appropriate treatment. “The ability to quickly search across a variety of options provides us an opportunity to meet the needs of program participants in a timely manner. That timeliness can be all the difference in the world when someone is motivated to find help.”
The CSU team is currently working on the next phase of development, which will make it user-friendly for non-professionals. The team is seeking community members to take part in a focus group to help inform the creation of the new user interface. Substance abuse treatment agencies interested in registering their services or individuals interested in participating in the focus group can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.