The Baltimore Health Department is working to design a system to monitor how many drug treatment slots are available in the city at any moment, a plan that officials say should make it easier to get help for addiction patients.
The idea has been in the works for several years and took a step forward Wednesday when the city’s spending panel approved a grant to fund the development of software for the system.
Dr. Leana Wen, the city’s health commissioner, said that in recent months officials started making phone calls and filling out a spreadsheet to track treatment availability on a weekly basis, but they want more comprehensive data.
Addiction experts say it’s important to get people into treatment the moment they’re ready — even short delays can result in relapses or overdoses.
Health officials have been scrambling to respond. They have pushed for more people to be able to use the overdose-reversing drug naloxone and are seeking to significantly boost the number of patients who can get the addiction-treatment drug buprenorphine.