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Trust is at the heart of patient relationships, said Diane DiGregorio, RN. Diane manages Telehealth Services for HealthAlliance Home Health and Hospice, where she cares for people with chronic illnesses such as congestive heart failure (CHF) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). She teaches patients how to monitor their daily vital signs at home and transmit them to her electronically, so she can monitor their health from her office. "Our goal is to work closely with their physicians, case managers, rehab team and other caregivers, so patients can manage their conditions at home and stay out of the hospital," Diane said. "Patients trust that I will make the right recommendations on their behalf."
Diane has had a long career caring for cardiac and other critical-care patients. She directed the outpatient cardiac rehab program at Leominster Hospital and worked as an ICU nurse at Burbank Hospital. She joined HealthAlliance Hospital in 2013 to launch Telehealth Services. With Diane at the helm, the program has since enrolled some 500 patients, and the hospital's readmission rates for CHF and COPD have dropped from 38 to 8 percent.
Diane strives to not only keep patients out of the hospital, but also to give them back some self-confidence and control over their lives. "We empower patients to play an active role as partners in their own health care," Diane said.
Trust is also important for Diane and her fellow caregivers to make Telehealth Services a success. "It takes a village to manage patients, and we work very closely together," she said. "I’ll call the primary care physician. I’ll call the cardiologist. The communication loop is always tied together at the end of the day for the best plan of care for the patient."
Diane's patient relationships can last for months. She talks to them daily by phone to keep that personal connection alive. "What's most rewarding is seeing patients happier and healthier in their home setting," she said. "We're helping patients learn more about their disease process and medical conditions, while giving them positive reinforcement to help them feel better. There's nothing like the comforts of home."