Program objective

Create a comprehensive diagnostic snapshot of the crisis.

The challenge

graphic showing national opioid use map

Opioid misuse and abuse in the U.S. has risen dramatically in recent years. Yet health experts lack a broad framework for evaluating the impact of wide-scale prevention, treatment and management efforts. Problems and progress have been difficult to discern. 

This is the kind of challenge that OptumLabs® was designed to work on. Seeking a solution, we convened experts across health care to develop a dashboard of key performance indicators (KPIs) to identify trends: problems, gaps and bright spots related to the opioid crisis.


Our role

Working with our partners, OptumLabs used claims data to develop 29 measures that examine this issue from a range of vantage points. The resulting KPIs focus on the following four domains:

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Pain management

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Opioid use disorder treatment

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Maternal and child health

Our collaborative is also doing research on prescribing by site of service, post-surgical use of opioids and long-term outcomes, and use of conservative therapies as an antidote to opioid use for back pain, among other topics.

Opioid Insights for Action Day

Experience our event where experts convened to share ideas and partner to help reverse the opioid epidemic. Watch videos.

The problems we work on at OptumLabs come in all shapes and sizes. But the common theme is health and health care impact.

– Darshak Sanghavi, Chief Medical Officer and SVP Translation, OptumLabs


Research collaborators

  • Mayo Clinic
  • University of California San Francisco 
  • Boston University School of Public Health 
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 
  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 

Opioid expert advisory panel

  • Thomas McLellan, PhD, University of Pennsylvania
  • Mark Wallace, MD, University of California San Diego
  • Munish Gupta, MD, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, NeoQIC
  • Rob Saper, MD, Boston University School of Medicine and Public Health
  • Kun Zhang, PhD, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Prescription Drug Overdose-Health Systems Team
  • Ellen Meara, PhD, Dartmouth College
  • Yngvild Olsen, MD, American Society of Addiction Medicine (FASAM)
  • Joji Suzuki, MD, Harvard Medical School; Brigham and Women's Hospital
  • Paul Christo, MD, Johns Hopkins University
  • Michael Hooten, MD, Mayo Clinic
  • Molly Jeffery, PhD, Mayo Clinic
  • Don Schwarz, MD, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • Audra Stock, LPC, MAC, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
  • Julie Mae Fritz, PT, PhD, University of Utah
  • Gary Franklin, MD, University of Washington

Research sponsors

  • American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) 
  • UnitedHealthcare