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Cost, Access are Biggest Barriers to OUD Recovery, But Telemedicine Can Help, According to New Report from Bicycle Health

At Bicycle Health, we recognize that placing our patients’ insights and experience at the forefront is essential for ensuring exceptional patient care and making meaningful change. That’s why we surveyed nearly 1,000 patients with opioid use disorder (OUD) – gathering important insights on their attitudes about critical topics like recovery, telehealth, and stigma – because their voices are fundamental for developing our stigma-free, patient-centered programs. 

OUD is one of the most urgent health crises of our time, with an estimated 10.1 million people misusing opioids in the year 2019. As the epidemic continues to increase in severity, cost and access were revealed as the biggest blockers of recovery – but telemedicine makes it available and accessible to more people. According to the findings, close to 40% of respondents report that affordability is the biggest barrier to joining an opioid recovery program, while 29% say that not finding a program they like, trust, or is located in their area is standing in their way. A staggering 100% of respondents believe that telemedicine-supported Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) should remain available even after the pandemic comes to an end. 

When it comes to stigma against opioids and those with OUD, most respondents don’t believe they are treated differently at work or school because of their OUD – but they do believe pursuing recovery can impact their career or education success. Over 65% of respondents started recovery because they wanted to succeed professionally, but close to half of respondents still do not feel comfortable sharing with coworkers, schoolmates, or their managers when they use work or school time for recovery-related activities. And while the world catches up to the possibility of recovery and the realities of OUD, sentiment about setbacks and the crisis overall has room to evolve. Close to a quarter of respondents have experienced relapse – and while 58% said it made them more determined to fulfill their goals, 30% reported feeling less hopeful about potential recovery. 

“Over 10 million people misuse opioids each year, yet extreme stigma, lack of accessibility, and the cost of treatment prevent them from reaching recovery,” said Ankit Gupta, CEO and founder of Bicycle Health. “It’s critical that we as a society not only provide better treatment options that fit into the daily lives of those with opioid use disorder – but also that we are shifting the cultural conversation around how they recover.” 

When it comes to stigma, there are negative implications for accessing addiction treatment. For that reason, we want to use these survey results, alongside our recently published research article in BMJ proving our clinical model for treating OUD, to showcase the far-reaching implications for access to addiction treatment via telehealth. Not only do our telehealth services give patients the opportunity to seek affordable, stigma-free, confidential care that doesn’t stand in the way of their careers or personal lives, but we know amplifying their voices is the most critical part for helping patients lead fulfilling and opioid-free lives. 

Additional key findings from the study include: 




Opioids and the Healthcare System

We’re proud to provide our evidence-based OUD treatment virtually in 24 states across America. Our care model includes synchronous and asynchronous telehealth visits, same-day prescription refills for medication management, access to peer support groups and psychotherapy, and regular in-home diagnostics testing to monitor a patient’s progress. In 2021 alone, Bicycle Health prevented an estimated 355 overdoses and reduced OUD symptoms in nearly 10,000 patients. 

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