As of data released yesterday, the state of Massachusetts loses 5 people a day to opioid overdose. The whole nation is facing an epidemic, young people are dying at an alarming rate and more people becoming addicted to opioids every day. Naloxone is a drug that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose and saves lives. Civilians can be trained to administer the drug and be there to reverse the fatal effects of an overdose. However, in order to administer the drug they must be in the right place at the right time. To help connect responders with those in need the FDA held a month-long hackathon.
To help connect responders with those in need the FDA held a month-long hackathon. The goal of which was to provide a mobile application to get Naloxone to those who need it within the 5 minutes after the person in need begins overdosing. In many parts of the country, the number of overdoses that happen in one evening far outpaces the number of EMTs and police officers who are on duty to respond.
Cory, Carrie and I were inspired to participate after several years of watching our towns getting gutted by heroin addiction. We’ve lost friends and neighbors who had so much more to experience, so when the FDA opportunity came about we knew that our skill sets could help make a difference.
The application is called Antidote. It is designed to connect those who need Naloxone to their area with those who have it. It has two roles: the responder, and the requester. The responder is a user who is trained to administer Naloxone and the requester is someone who needs it. We wanted the workflow to be minimal and familiar. The guiding principal was if you have used Uber you would know how this would work. The application asks for minimal information, just a phone number and your location, to respect the privacy of those involved.
From a technology perspective, we knew we wanted to support both iOS and Android. While we never used React Native before, it made sense to adopt it as it is designed for those who have used React on the web and it integrates well with Redux. There are an endless number of plugins for React Native, so the implementation of location, maps, notifications, styling and persistence was relatively straightforward. We didn’t want to bother with authentication or authorization and wanted to be able to verify accounts with SMS. Auth0 provides this SMS/passwordless functionality out of the box and made itself an even easier choice in its implementation.