Falsification Rate of Telemedicine-Based Urine Drug Screenings are On-Par With In-Person Treatment Programs, New Bicycle Health Study Finds

Less than 3% of study participants receiving medication for opioid use disorder via telehealth falsified urine drug screening results; just one sample (0.8%) did not match the patient’s DNA, according to new research published in the Journal of Substance Use and Addiction Treatment from Bicycle Health

BOSTON, Sept. 14, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Bicycle Health, the nation’s largest virtual provider of integrated medical and behavioral healthcare for opioid use disorder (OUD), published new research in the Journal of Substance Use and Addiction Treatment. This peer-reviewed study shows that 97.7% of study participants had no signs of sample falsification upon submitting a home-collected urine drug screen (UDS) sample by mail to a laboratory.

UDS is a necessary component of quality OUD care, whether in-person or via telemedicine. As virtual OUD care has grown, critics have questioned whether self-administered at-home tests can be a reliable source of data about a patient’s recovery journey.

Bicycle Health developed a randomized at-home drug screening process that fosters accountability to necessary drug testing through a system of app-based prompts, reminders, and testing support. The goal of the program is to ensure consistent, reliable clinical information for providers and feedback on their recovery success for patients. Nonetheless some patients may attempt to manipulate the results. This new peer-reviewed study of the program indicates that falsified at-home tests occurred less than 3% of the time, as compared to known falsification rates at in-person programs which range from 4.8% to 18% in prior studies.

“We know that telemedicine treatment can work for people struggling with OUD – we’ve seen it firsthand and also through peer-reviewed research conducted by our program and others studying the modality,” said Dr. Brian Clear, Chief Medical Officer of Bicycle Health. “This new research demonstrates that it’s possible to utilize a well-designed remote drug screening program to ensure the safety and effectiveness of telemedicine OUD care. The result is a more broadly accessible care model that meets patients where they are, and that has few or no limitations compared to in-person care for most patients with OUD.”

Key findings include:

  • Of the 392 patients that participated in the final study, 97.7% of samples were determined to be human urine samples containing buprenorphine and metabolites of buprenorphine with no indication that the patient had falsified their sample.
  • Of the participating patients, 120 consented to and completed an oral cheek swab under video observation and successfully sent the swab back to an external laboratory. Only 1 sample (0.8%) was a genetic mismatch from the patient’s urine sample, suggesting another person’s urine was used.
  • The rate of falsification in the study was only 2.3%, as compared to the in-person industry average which ranges from 4.8% to 18%.

The gold standard of care for OUD, medication for OUD (MOUD) including buprenorphine – has been shown to reduce ER visits, non-fatal drug overdoses, and healthcare costs. But regulations that could protect this proven method of care are still under threat.

“Telehealth-based care models that rely on MOUD like buprenorphine can save lives and have been proven to do so with little risk of diversion,” said Ankit Gupta, CEO and Founder of Bicycle Health. “Clinically-proven virtual care models like Bicycle Health have emerged as a lifeline for people struggling with OUD across this country. With an opioid epidemic that affects 9.2 million Americans, supporting effective and evidence-based OUD care options must remain a priority for our healthcare system, policymakers, and regulators.”

A full summary of the key outcomes and insights from the research are available online here in Bicycle Health’s resource center for strategic partners.

About Bicycle Health
Bicycle Health is America’s #1 telehealth provider of medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD), offering an evidence-based clinical care model that includes FDA-approved Medications for Addiction Treatment (MAT), access to a highly-trained team of medical experts, therapy, a customized treatment plan, and peer support groups. Bicycle Health’s mission is to address the country’s most severe public health crisis by providing access to affordable, convenient, and confidential tele-MOUD treatment for individuals in need and helping to reduce stigmas associated with opioid addiction. For more information, visit www.bicyclehealth.com.


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