Seeing a doctor is easier than ever with the the breakthrough of telemedicine. While telemedicine first began about forty years ago to specialized locations, its usage has skyrocketed and is becoming more and more popular everywhere.

Anybody, from stay at home parents, disabled or elderly persons, people without access to transportation, to someone who just doesn’t have the time to drive out to an appointment, can now talk to a medical professional from their computer or phone, establish a diagnosis, and even have medical personnel make a home visit.

The service of telemedicine provides its users with live consultations via video chat with a board certified doctor. Available 24 hours a day, users can receive medical advice, have medicine prescribed to them, and request a nurse practitioner for any follow up care — without leaving their living room and, to the relief of many, without having to wait in a waiting room. For many people, the waiting and uncertainty can cause some panic, and being able to immediately speak to someone provides peace of mind.

Another benefit of utilizing telemedicine is starting a lasting relationship with a doctor. Many people who move around a lot have trouble with establishing a relationship just to have to move and find another one, but now the same team of doctors and nurses will be able to get to know their patients, even from far away.

In addition, the cost of telemedicine is generally more efficient than an in-person visit. On top of the reduced travel costs, numerous doctors charge less for consultations done this way.

However, despite the many benefits and conveniences, there are a few downsides to telemedicine. A common complaint is the possibility for electronic or network bugs and glitches. For example, some bad weather could interrupt or cancel an online appointment.

Another downside, from the doctors’ point of view, is the lack of being able to physically touch their patients for a full, proper assessment. Many doctors require that patients visit them in-person before agreeing to online appointments.