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Scouting Report-Bicycle Health: Addressing the Need for Targeted Care for Opioid Use Disorder

The Driver:

Bicycle Health, a virtual addiction medicine clinic, raised 50 million dollars in a Series B funding round led by InterAlpen Partners with participation from current investors Questa Capital, City Light Capital, Cressey Ventures, and existing investors. It will invest the new funding in additional staffing, improving its virtual health clinic, building business partnerships, and research to investigate the efficacy of its treatment model.

Key Takeaways:

  • According to the CDC, Opioid abuse increased by 30% from the pandemic's beginning to April 2021.

  • The most abused type of opioid was a synthetic opioid. Examples include fentanyl and U47700 (a high-powered synthetic opioid).

  • According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), almost 10 million people misused prescription pain relievers and approximately 750,000 people used heroin.

  • Young adults between the age of 18 and 25 are most likely to be at risk for opioid abuse according to Risk Factors for Opioid Misuse, Addiction, and Overdose from the U.S. Department of Labor.

The Story:

CEO and founder Ankit Gupta established Bicycle Health, an addiction medicine clinic in 2017, to combat the rise in opioid abuse along with the increase in opioid-related deaths. In response to the rise in depression, anxiety, and mental health illnesses during the pandemic, Bicycle Health expanded its services to a virtual platform.

Bicycle Health provides opioid use disorder treatment and medication-assisted treatment services through telemedicine. It provides access to medical specialists and other resources customized to meet patients’ unique needs remotely. Virtual access to medical specialists is significant because almost half of the country does not have a medical doctor specializing in opioid abuse.

It also works with in-network health insurance carriers such as Aetna, Anthem, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Medicare, and United Healthcare. Bicycle Health operates in 25 states and its platform has doctors and health care experts that provide confidential, credible, and customized healthcare plans to meet patients’ needs. Patients can schedule appointments via phone or telehealth and get same-day prescription refills if needed. Beyond providing opioid care, Bicycle Health also provides referrals to primary care providers when needed for those who require one.

The Differentiator:

Bicycle Health services focus on providing meticulous care to patients that are tagged incurable. It provides affordable, specialized, and customized medical care for opioid abuse patients when they are ready to embark on the journey of becoming opioid-free. The cost of Bicycle health’s full-length program is comparable to competitors like Eleanor Health (which provides comprehensive mental health and substance use disorder care in clinics, virtually, and in patients’ homes) and Ophelia (which offers medication and support for quitting opioids). According to the company, Bicycle Health’s services for patients whose insurance does not cover their monthly cost is approximately $200. This monthly charge covers the cost of all the resources and doctor's visits except for the prescription costs.

Another unique benefit of its virtual addiction clinic is that patients have a say in how and when they get treated. Also, the virtual platform addresses privacy concerns and eliminates patients’ fears of being noticed or judged for seeking treatment.

The Big Picture:

The stigma or perceived stigma of receiving treatment for opioid abuse could prevent patients from getting the help they need. Access to addiction treatment or medicine virtually is a welcome development that could avert the rise in opioid-related deaths among all age groups. Bicycle Health is helping to demystify the treatment of opioid addiction. Companies that help remove the taint of treating substance addiction like Bicycle and others are illustrating that opioid addiction is a medical issue that requires medical treatment and attention, just like other diseases.

Moreover, by specializing and focusing on the needs of those with substance use disorder, these companies are demonstrating that there are distinct needs of these patients that necessitate special skills that providers must bring to bear in recovery. By creating nurturing, non-judgmental environments, Bicycle Health is empowering and supporting patients to seek treatment and helping them succeed in overcoming their addiction.


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