Recommended Telehealth Technology

December 4, 2022

Table of Contents

Telehealth rapidly expanded amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Telehealth has been around for centuries, although the technology has changed quite a bit!

While technology is of great importance within telehealth, it doesn’t have to be intimidating or hard. Bicycle Health is here with you every step of the way. 

Let’s start by discussing the telehealth technologies you’ll need to be a Bicycle Health participant.

Telehealth Technology for Patients

Bicycle Health stays on the cutting edge, and if you work with us, you’ll experience this firsthand. The technology you’ll need is common and easy to use.

The Bicycle Health App 

As a Bicycle Health patient, you’ll be asked to download the new and innovative Bicycle Health application (app) onto your phone and/or computer. Find it in the following places:

This confidential, HIPAA-protected app will be used for all your telehealth needs, including these:

  • Medical provider visits
  • Online support groups
  • Support staff communications
  • Suboxone induction plan
  • Provider notes
  • Appointment scheduling or rescheduling 
  • Medication refills
  • Urine drug screens
  • Billing and health insurance

Connecting to the App

You’ll need access to either a phone or computer with the following:

  • Audio and video capabilities
  • Internet connection
  • Outlet or another power source to regularly charge your device

When connecting to the internet, we recommend either a landline connection or a personal and secure WiFi network.

Putting It All Together 

All telehealth visits will take place via the Bicycle Health app, which will connect the patient and provider to the HIPAA- and password-protected, individual-use Zoom room. 

We protect the privacy of our patients’ health information per state and federal laws, including compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Disclosure of Substance Use Disorder Patient Records (Part 2). 

You can read more information at these resources:

Telehealth Technology for Providers

Our medical providers enjoy the innovative Bicycle Health technology that makes the telehealth experience so personable and patient-centered.

Providers conduct video calls with patients via the Zoom platform. Here's what you should know about that platform:

  • Meeting privacy is protected by generating a unique Zoom event for each video visit with each patient and by safeguarding each visit with a waiting room. 
  • To protect patient privacy and confidentiality, the HIPAA-protected Zoom telehealth visits do NOT allow recordings. 
  • None of the data on the Bicycle Health app is stored locally (on phones or computers). 
  • Data encryption ensures confidentiality, and telehealth visits are encrypted using the Advanced Encryption Standard.

To communicate with patients and manage patient inquiries, Bicycle Health staff leverage the Freshworks product suite.

  • Freshchat allows our staff to seamlessly communicate with patients via chat and across different channels, and patients can separate their clinical questions and conversations from their more administrative questions.
  • Freshdesk allows our staff to manage and collaborate on more complicated tickets raised by patients, such as prior authorization appeals and care coordination needs.
  • Freshcaller allows our staff to make and receive phone calls across several different phone lines, ensuring that patients can quickly reach the right team.

Patients can access tech support staff on the “chat channel” within the Bicycle Health app, and clinical support staff is also available for further assistance. You can read more about Bicycle Health’s HIPAA-compliant telehealth standards here.

Telehealth Technology Through the Years

The medical field has more than 100 years of telehealth experience, but technological advancements have made it far more effective and convenient than ever before.

Here's a quick timeline:

  • 1800s: The first documented telehealth application was in 1879 (3 years after the invention of the telephone) when a physician listened to a sick baby’s breathing over the phone as part of a remote exam.[1]
  • Early 1900s: In 1906, the inventor of the EKG (a tracing of the heart’s rhythm) used telephone lines to remotely perform EKGs on hospital patients, as the only EKG machine at the time was in his lab (hospitals didn’t yet have them).[2]
  • Middle 1900s: In 1912, telehealth became mandatory for many ships at sea. Any vessel with more than 50 people on board had to have a radio and trained radio operators in the case of medical emergencies.[2]
  • 1950s: An experimental form of television that enabled users to visually see each other was utilized in the late 1950s by patients receiving psychotherapy at the University of Nebraska.[2]
  • 1960s: This same technology was used on a larger scale in the 1960s, as physicians at Massachusetts General Hospital could remotely evaluate sick travelers landing at Boston Logan International Airport. An in-person physician also assessed the first 200 patients at the airport.

    The in-person physician agreed with the remote physician 96% of the time, ultimately demonstrating that telehealth works.[2] Around the same time, NASA began testing methods to provide telehealth to astronauts.

    In their effort to develop the technology, NASA partnered with the indigenous Papago tribe in Arizona and facilitated using satellites to offer telehealth in remote areas.[1]

  • 1970s: In 1972, NASA began a similar program in Alaska, connecting rural communities with medical care via telehealth. [1]
  • Today: Technology advancements have made telehealth even more effective and easier to use, allowing patients to engage in real-time interactions with their medical providers no matter where they are.

    As of 2017 (pre-COVID), more than 60% of healthcare institutions used telehealth.[3] The use of telehealth visits more than doubled during the COVID-19 pandemic.[4]

Conclusion

At Bicycle Health, we value our patients above all else, using extensive knowledge and innovative technologies to deliver confidential, evidence-based, and patient-centered care via telehealth. 

To learn more about the availability of Bicycle Health’s buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) treatment in your area, call us at (844) 943-2514, or schedule an appointment here

Medically Reviewed By Elena Hill, MD, MPH

Elena Hill, MD; MPH received her MD and Masters of Public Health degrees at Tufts Medical School and completed her family medicine residency at Boston Medical Center. She is currently an attending physician at Bronxcare Health Systems in the Bronx, NY where she works as a primary care physician as well as part time in pain management and integrated health. Her clinical interests include underserved health care, chronic pain and integrated/alternative health.

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Citations

  1. Chapter 1: History of Telehealth. Access Medicine. https://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com/content.aspx?bookid=2217&sectionid=187794434#1158358709. Accessed November 2022. 
  2. Telemedicine: An Historical Perspective. Telecommunications Policy. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/0308596184900442?via%3Dihub. December 1984. Accessed November 2022. 
  3. Special Report: Telehealth. The New England Journal of Medicine. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsr1503323. October 2017. Accessed November 2022.
  4. Trends in the Use of Telehealth During the Emergence of the COVID-19 Pandemic: United States. January-March 2020. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6943a3.htm. October 2020. Accessed November 2022. 

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