The ability of telehealth companies to do business in Texas--the last major U.S. market stymieing the growth of video doctor consultations--cleared a key hurdle when a bill widening patient access cleared the House of Representatives.

The new legislation is the latest victory for the Telehealthcare industry. Passage has opened a market of 28 million people to telehealth companies like American Well, MDLive and Teladoc that all offer access to physicians and patients via smartphone, tablet or computer. In recent years, employers and private insurers have started embracing the trend as a way to make healthcare more convenient and avoid costly and unnecessary trips to the emergency room, or a more expensive physician’s office. But there’s still some side effects…

While Telehealthcare continues to help keep costs down and makes it more convenient for patients, there’s a lot of risk with web-based medical services. EMR records are stored digitally, E-script companies and patient portal systems typically still only require a pin and password for access and current authentication methods are outdated, costly and unreliable.

The fact is, data breaches are up. A recent Accenture study found that 26 percent of Americans, or more than one in four, had had their health care data breached—meaning that health systems need to step up their efforts when it comes to privacy. In 2015, Anthem, the largest health insurance company in the U.S. was subject to a massive data breach forcing them to pay a record $115M to settle data breach suit. If approved, this settlement will mark the largest payout to date for a data breach case.

The new legislation that was passed in Texas allows telehealth consultations between a physician and a patient AS LONG AS the clinician complies with certain standards such as use of “clinically relevant photographic or video images, but even this can be bypassed or hacked.

It’s time that patients demand stronger security measures and it’s up to providers and physicians to ensure that they stay vigilant in safeguarding personal information.

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