Telehealth rapidly expanded amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, though contrary to popular belief, telehealth itself has been around for centuries. The technology, though, continues to evolve… and with tech innovation, medical providers and patients also adjust to new technology services! Technology is of great importance within the field of telehealth, but it doesn’t have to be intimidating or hard… and Bicycle Health is here with you every step of the way. Let’s start by discussing the telehealth technologies that patients need.
Bicycle Health stays on the cutting edge of technology, and as a Bicycle Health patient, you’ll experience this firsthand. But the technology Bicycle Health patients need is common and easy to use!
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, which can be found in the Apple App Store and Google Play for free. This confidential, HIPAA-protected Bicycle Health app will be used for all your telehealth needs, including medical provider visits, online support groups, and support staff communications. You’ll be able to view your buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) induction plan, provider notes, schedule (or re-schedule) appointments, request medication refills, upload urine drug screens, update your health insurance, and more.
And thus, you’ll need access to either a phone or computer with audio and video capabilities, an internet connection, and an outlet or other 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.
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 in accordance with 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 about Bicycle Health’s Telehealth Informed Consent here, Notice of Privacy Practices here, and telehealth privacy standards here.
To learn more about the evidence for telehealth buprenorphine treatment, check out Dr. Randi Sokol’s blog post here.
Our medical providers really 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. Meeting privacy is protected by generating a unique Zoom event for each video visit with each individual patient, and by protecting each visit with a waiting room. In order to protect patient privacy and confidentiality, the HIPAA-protected Zoom telehealth visits do NOT allow recordings. And further, none of the data on the Bicycle Health app is stored locally (i.e., on phones or computers). Data encryption ensures confidentiality, and telehealth visits are encrypted using the Advanced Encryption Standard.
Patients have access to tech support staff on the “chat channel” within the Bicycle Health app, and clinical support staff are also available for further assistance. You can read more about Bicycle Health’s HIPAA-compliant telehealth standards here.
The medical field has more than 100 years of telehealth experience, but modern advancements in technology have made it far more effective and convenient than ever before.
The first known documented application of telehealth was in 1879—three 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. After that, the use of telehealth markedly started to grow. 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). In 1912, telehealth became mandatory for many ships at sea—any ship with more than 50 people on board had to have a radio and trained radio operators in the case of medical emergencies.
Telehealth experienced a major leap forward in the 1950s and 1960s. 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. This same technology was then used on a larger scale in the 1960s, as physicians at Massachusetts General Hospital were able to remotely evaluate sick travelers landing at Boston Logan International Airport. The first 200 patients were also evaluated by an in-person physician at the airport, and the in-person physician agreed with the remote physician 96% of the time, ultimately demonstrating that telehealth really does work.
Around the same time, NASA began testing methods to provide telehealth to astronauts in space. As part of their effort to develop the technology, NASA partnered with the indigenous Papago tribe in Arizona and facilitated the use of satellites to provide telehealth in remote areas. In 1972, NASA began a similar program in Alaska connecting rural communities with medical care.
Advances in technology have made telehealth even more effective and easier to use, allowing patients to engage in real-time interactions with their medical provider no matter where they are. As of 2017 (pre-COVID), more than 60% of healthcare institutions used telehealth. The use of telehealth visits more than doubled during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here 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. We’d love to walk with you as you re-shape your life’s path.