By Ingrid Clark
APPLETON – Communication between doctors and patients has been a problem ever since Hippocrates, the legendary Greek physician, first uttered his oath some 2,500 years ago.
Jane Driessen, a registered nurse with an entrepreneurial bent, is trying to cure that ancient problem by revolutionizing the typical visit to the doctor’s office.
“RN’s To Go” is creating a bridge between the patient and the doctor, decreasing the communication gap – which, in turn, leads to better treatment, less anxiety and more satisfied patients and medical professionals.
The mission of RN’s To Go is to “ensure every patient receives optimal medical care while making the most of any time spent in the office of medical providers.” Ultimately, RN’s To Go is working to clear up any confusion of the patient after leaving the doctor’s office in order to better prepare the patient to make informed decisions and have clarity and understanding of their health care and treatment process.
Driessen, a registered nurse for 30 years and the owner and chief advocate of RN’s To Go, has seen a need for this for many years. Through her years working as a registered nurse, as well as working in coronary and intensive care units, adult and child emergency rooms, and birthing and dialysis centers, Driessen has seen many examples of confused patients and misunderstandings between doctors and patients, where information has been misinterpreted.
The process of RN’s To Go starts with the initial phone call, in which the patient explains the purpose of the visit, his or her medical history, as well as current medications and any other pertinent information. Driessen then meets the patient at their appointment in order to accompany them and audio-record the doctor’s visit.
After the appointment, the patient will receive a written statement summarizing all the important information from the doctor using words that make sense to the patient and also outlining any treatment plans or medications. This supplies the patient with an easy to read, quick reference to all the important information provided by their doctor and is also a guide to share with the family or other health care providers. The service costs $40 per hour.
Although Driessen has not encountered any adverse reactions from doctors yet, she does anticipate she will in the future.
“The only (doctors) who will be uncomfortable are the ones who doubt their expertise, and that should be a real red flag. Run away, you don’t want that doctor,” Driessen said. “The doctor should be pushing for it; if it can improve the health and understanding of their patient, why wouldn’t they want it?”
Since Driessen developed the company in January of 2006, her client base has been steadily increasing.
“My target market is anyone in need of this service, but most of my costumers have been seniors hired by “boomers” to help their parents,” said Driessen.
This has led to Driessen’s future plans of contracting with companies in order to decrease company costs whose employees miss work to take their parents to doctor appointments.
“Doctor visits can be scary and overwhelming for anyone,” Driessen said. “We often think we will remember all the questions we have, but we don’t. And a lot of times people don’t want to take notes because they think they’ll look stupid. That is why having a health care advocate by your side is so beneficial.”
Clark is a student in the UW-Madison Department of Life Sciences Communication.