With the advent of the Affordable Care Act, there has been a greater demand than ever for medical professionals. While it’s great news that people are able to get treatment when they become sick, the system is also quickly getting overrun by this influx of new patients. There just aren’t enough providers to take on the added load.

The Trump Administration has pledged to rebuild health care in the U.S., but any plan able to muster the votes for passage will still need to cover as many patients as possible. As a result, this provider shortage isn’t likely to ease anytime soon.

So the medical community is doing what they’ve always done–adapting to new challenges with new technologies. And one of the most powerful tools to come onto the scene in recent years has been virtual doctors.

Don’t let the name fool you. This isn’t a robot making miscalculations and giving you the wrong medicine. It’s a human doctor, consulting directly with you over the internet and getting the information necessary to give you an accurate diagnosis and subsequent treatment.

For routine illnesses, this is a great solution. A doctor doesn’t need to be in the room with us to tell us how to treat strep throat, so why should we go to the office for care? There are a lot of good reasons to do the exact opposite.

Lower Cost

A doctor seeing patients in person needs a lot of things, not the least of which is an office. That means a power bill, a water bill, rent or mortgage payments, and much more. With a virtual doctor, the space required for patient care is very small–just enough room to set up the video interface and to have a seat in front of the camera. There is the minimal cost of a high-speed internet connection and the necessary hardware, but beyond that, not much else. Not even tongue depressors.

That means no panel full of phone lines, no waiting room, no constant handwashing, and much more. The less the doctor has to spend on overhead, the less the doctor can charge for patient care.

Contained Infection

When we get sick, we immediately go somewhere that has other sick people. We all cough, sneeze, touch magazines, handle doorknobs, and do whatever we can think of to share germs. It seems a little crazy to expose ourselves to a bunch of other ailments in order to be treated for one.

With a virtual doctor, that risk is eliminated. The doctor can’t catch what you have, and you can’t share germs with other patients. The result is a faster recovery for you and the containment of illnesses like the flu before they spread in a community.

Time Saved

We’ve all had that doctor’s appointment that ran behind, maybe by hours. While it’s often assumed that the staff has simply overbooked the day, the problem usually lies with the patients. They call in and say they’re having some indigestion, and it turns out to be a heart attack that requires immediate and advanced care. Or they see the doctor for an achy shoulder, then happen to remember their gout flare-up, urinary tract infection, and nagging cough.

With virtual doctors, time is saved. Ailments are routine, so there’s no unexpected compounding of the visit time. A properly prepared patient can allow the doctor to get right to work on the problem. That makes it easier for the doctor to stay on schedule and get you taken care of quickly.

No one likes going to the doctor because it means they’re sick, but it’s made much worse with the high cost, long wait, and risk of catching other germs. Virtual doctors let you bypass all that, reducing secondary ailments, cutting costs, and saving time. It’s a win-win strategy for breaking up the medical bottleneck.