Consumer / Employer, Health Tech

Evernorth taps Bicycle Health for virtual opioid use disorder treatment

Bicycle Health provides medication for addiction treatment. Through its telehealth platform, it also offers a team of medical experts, a customized treatment plan, same-day prescription refills for medication management, peer support groups and therapy.

Evernorth, the health services business of Cigna, has selected Bicycle Health for virtual opioid use disorder treatment, the companies announced Thursday.

San Francisco, California-based Bicycle Health offers medication for addiction treatment, which prescribes FDA-approved medications to help withdrawal symptoms, prevent overdose and support long-term recovery. This is done through its telehealth platform, which also provides access to a team of medical experts, a customized treatment plan, same-day prescription refills for medication management, peer support groups and therapy. The services can be accessed via a computer browser or phone through its app, which can be downloaded on the Apple app store or Google Play.

The company, which currently provides care in 24 states, works with health plans under a value-based care model, in which it is paid based on patient health outcomes.

Through this contract, Evernorth members get an enrollment call over the phone with a Bicycle Health care professional to determine if the program is a fit for them. Cigna health plan customers who receive coverage through their employer or marketplace exchange plans can also access Bicycle Health’s services through their benefits packages. After the enrollment call, an appointment is scheduled with a Bicycle Health provider. All appointments happen on an audio/video call through the app.

The company is also working with Cigna to identify hospitals that treat a large number of patients addicted to opioids, said Ankit Gupta, CEO and founder of Bicycle Health.

“From there, we’ll build seamless integrations to ensure every patient gets the care they need and doesn’t need to return to the hospital,” Gupta said.

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Several companies are aiming to tackle the scourge of opioids through virtual addiction treatment programs. They include Workit Health, Boulder Care and Confidant Health. The latter recently announced it is working with Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield in Virginia for opioid use disorder treatment. But Bicycle Health has the largest national footprint and most health plan coverage of any virtual opioid use disorder provider, Gupta claimed. It was also the first to publish a peer-reviewed study, he touted.

There’s no question that the opioid crisis is severe and all approaches including virtual treatment need to be explored. Nearly 10 million Americans are struggling with opioid addiction, but only 10% are diagnosed or in treatment, Gupta said. Additionally 40% of rural Americans live in a county without a provider that offers medication for addiction treatment, and in-person rehabilitation stays cost upwards of $15,000 per month.

There are also non-financial reasons for avoiding getting help in person.

“Not to mention, the societal stigma around addiction precludes many from seeking traditional treatment options out of fear of discrimination and isolation,” Gupta added.

Hence, a virtual treatment modality offers a sense of anonymity and privacy that can help Americans struggling with opioid addiction to stick with treatment, Gupta said.

“Working with Evernorth will allow us to reach more of those Americans who need treatment for opioid use disorder but don’t get it — with a clinically proven, private treatment option that is covered by their insurance,” Gupta said. “We also hope that this collaboration will further address [opioid use disorder] stigma by opening the door for treatment across employer health plans. This will ultimately move the needle on Bicycle Health’s goal of helping more people achieve lasting recovery from [opioid use disorder].”

Photo: sorbetto, Getty Images