Bre Loughlin was a typical registered nurse up until the COVID-19 pandemic. She always had a passion for technology, but her interest became a full-fledged career when she realized the healthcare system needed a better way to screen incoming patients for disease.
She was volunteering at the Salvation Army in Verona, Wisconsin at the time. Loughlin soon discovered the facility didn’t have a way to screen people that needed a place to sleep for the virus, which increased the risk of a deadly outbreak. Other shelters for the needy faced the same problem at a time when many people were losing access to safe, reliable housing. Some people were turned away because they were showing flu-like symptoms, forcing them to sleep on the streets.
“When I heard what they were going through, I thought, ‘I know how to help. I know what to do,’” Bre told TODAY.
She soon came up with a way to make sure these vulnerable individuals had access to the care and support they needed.
Within 48 hours, Loughlin had already set her business plan into motion. She cashed out her retirement accounts and quit her job to make her dream a reality.
She started by renting out a van equipped with what she calls a “Nurse Disrupted” kiosk, a tablet that connects the patient to a RN in real-time with just one touch.
“It’s a telehealth company built for accessibility,” Loughlin explained. “So, we’re all about going after people who’ve been left behind by healthcare technologies.”
Patients can walk up and access the kiosk 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They can ask the RN a variety of healthcare questions for free. When the company started out, the program was staffed with student nurses, but two years later, all the providers are now registered nurses. Many are volunteers who spend their time lending their expertise to others.
The kiosks are now located in community centers and shelters for the unhoused throughout Wisconsin. They became a lifeline to thousands of people who wouldn’t normally have access to a nurse, especially during the winter.
Loughlin said many people lack access for three reasons: cost, connectivity, and complexity. The Nurse Disrupted program is designed to address all three at once.
The numbers don’t lie. The company says it has helped over 42,000 patients and prevented 1,200 medically unnecessary trips to the emergency room within its first 22 months of operations. That amounts to around $2.3 million saved in healthcare costs.
But Loughlin says she is just getting started. She hopes to increase the reach of the Nurse Disrupted program by putting kiosks in pharmacies, grocery stores, and other public areas.