Data and Evaluation
Collecting strong data and evaluation will give coalition members feedback to ensure that they have a sense of the impact and results from their work. The data also lays the groundwork for making subsequent decisions on how to move forward after an initial round of efforts. Data and evaluation are collected and used by each community to establish priorities and identify progress, which helps sustain coalition momentum. All Project Lazarus coalitions have certain data and evaluation requirements, which take the form of surveys and reports. This requirement comes as part of a larger effort to measure the effectiveness of the Model on a statewide level.
Coalition "self-evaluation" should constantly be assessing who is not at the table. Bringing in new energy is always helpful. Even more important is making sure that all the key players in the community are engaged to make certain that there is widespread ownership of the activities and the outcomes. This also helps ensure that no single sector dominants planning or implementing strategies.
The early data that is needed includes specific health related information, such as the number of emergency department visits and hospitalizations due to overdose, the number of overdose deaths, the number of prescriptions and recipients for opioid pain medication and other controlled substances dispensed, and the number of providers in the county who actively use the state’s prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP). In NC, the PDMP is called the Controlled Substances Reporting System or CSRS. The data can be obtained by working with your local health department. Project Lazarus will provide training for data querying and will help connect communities with the state resources needed. Service oriented data and information such as numbers, types, and locations of drug treatment facilities, and numbers and locations of physicians who can prescribe buprenorphine for opioid addiction is also needed. Access to this data is available through each state department of Health and Human Services, as well as at www.SAMHSA.gov for buprenorphine prescribers and opioid treatment programs.
Project Lazarus collects a biannual report from each coalition. These reports will serve multiple functions and be used by multiple parties. First, they will serve the coalition directly as a reminder to stay focused on the specific activities and outcomes that are unique to the Project Lazarus Model. The reports also help the coalition keep track of progress, which is crucial in being able to tell the story of the work being done as new partners and sectors are invited to participate. Second, the reports will serve Project Lazarus. The lessons learned from how the work progresses differentially in each county will help enrich and improve the training and technical assistance that Project Lazarus can offer to all counties. Third, they will serve the needs of researchers at the University of North Carolina Injury and Prevention Research Center at Chapel Hill who are conducting a formal evaluation of the statewide Community Care of NC collaborative Project Lazarus. Being able to measure the extent to which different activities are in place in different counties is crucial to their ability to connect the work Project Lazarus is doing to health outcomes, like changes in ED admissions for overdose rates across the state. The information provided in these reports will capture the process of the work, which could then be connected to the outcomes this work is aiming to affect.
It is very important to understand that these reports are not “graded” reports on the coalition leader or the work of the coalition. There is not a standard that coalitions are being measured against. Rather, the information provided in the reports will help everyone better understand what the Model looks like when implemented in varied settings. These reports help describe the program in the real world rather than being used to measure coalitions against some theoretically perfect program.