Everything is Bigger in Texas, Including the Opportunity

It’s been nearly a month since Gov. Abbott signed SB 1107 into law, igniting a frenzy of excitement and uncertainty in the telemedicine market in the Lone Star State. Now that health providers around the state can proceed without fear of not meeting specs in a litigious environment, they’re figuring out how virtual care will impact their business.

Many healthcare organizations fear virtual visits will cannibalize the in-person visits that have historically kept their brick-and-mortar facilities buzzing during business hours. This is true if systems choose to outsource visits to national telemedicine companies that connect your patients with unaffiliated providers. The beauty of virtual care is in the potential for doctors to have instant, ongoing access to patients so they can make new, timelier, and clinically appropriate connections even if the office is closed for the day, the weekend or simply if an in-person visit isn’t practical. Instead of fear, health systems should feel excited about the new regulations because doctors in Texas can finally use telemedicine to achieve the greater vision—dramatically expanding the scope, quality, and performance of team practice.

It's all about communication. Telemedicine isn’t a new form of care, rather it is a tool for practices to enhance access both to and from patients. With good communication, great care becomes even better, patient satisfaction scores climb, fewer patient emails get lost in your inbox, and phone messages and voicemails stop piling up. Clinic visits become more definitively problem-focused and this new tool actually makes life better for the doctor.

With a virtual care vendor that enables 100 percent in-network referrals, a health system can reduce leakage and ensure better outcomes for their patients by connecting them to the right specialists through integrated care coordination. The new virtual front door to health care enhances efficiency of group practice, empowers the entire care team and creates appeal to a broader customer base. Patient loyalty to doctors and systems surges with the addition of tech-enabled human-to-human access, as does health plan enrollment.

The ability to chat with a knowledgeable physician, informed and with access to the patient’s personal history in under a minute is what the market it being trained to demand; and patients are ready. A recent Harris poll showed 72 percent of Americans say it’s important that their health insurance providers use modern communication tools, such as live chat, when communicating with them.

Life is too short to wait for appointments—people just want communication. It’s all part of the next evolutionary step in health care, for patients, and for physicians. And that next step forward may be even be bigger in Texas.