Technology in the form of state-of-the-art computers on wheels have already proven their mettle at Blue Mountain Health System.

Instituted earlier this month for patients in its Palmerton and Gnaden Huetten hospitals, the Bedside Mobile Workstations save time, ensure accuracy, and enable nurses to spend more time with their patients.

Michelle DeSousa, a Registered Nurse at the Palmerton campus, said the BMW's have already had a profound impact on her day-to-day operations.

"I have a lot more time with my patients than ever," DeSousa said. "Before, it took up so much more of our time; these are creating more time with our patients because now, we are in the room charting right in front of the patient."

Dorothy Patzek, BMHS Vice President of Nursing, said the units allow nurses to scan the patient's name bands to assure and document their identity, and then enter all their vital information into the hospitals' record system right at the patient's side.

"They allow us to provide a patient-centered care environment," Patzek said. "We get to spend more time with the patient, and it gets the nurses away from their desk and paperwork."

Patzek said the incorporation of the units went better than anyone could have envisioned.

"We're thrilled at how well it went, because change is never easy," Patzek said. "We had a very successful rollout at both facilities."

A task force took over six months to develop the infrastructure, Patzek said.

"Nursing was actually involved with the whole IT process," she said. "It was a very collaborative effort, and we think that is why we've done so well."

Patzek said the units have been worth their weight in gold.

"Our ultimate goal is to improve patient care, and raise the quality of care," she said. "High-quality patient care is always the goal."

Blue Mountain Health System used $700,184 in gaming revenue it received from the Monroe Local Share Account - money from the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development and Gaming Act - in May to purchase the BMW's for patients at both of its campuses.

Initially, it used $300,000 of the grant to install the wires and cables needed to utilize the BMW's, which Patzek said was necessary for the hospitals to meet the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Electronic Health Record meaningful use guidelines.

As a result, Patzek said the hospitals could be eligible for a potential $8 million, which would be split evenly at both of its campuses.

The second aspect was for BMHS to use $300,000 of the grant money to purchase the 41 BMW units. Another $100,000 was spent on new desktop personal computers or other hardware, while $30,000 more has been used to buy technological equipment for the operating room.

The final phase is expected to be in place by Jan. of 2013, when all of the doctors' orders will be entered into the BMW computer directly to ensure accuracy and immediacy.

Eventually, medication administration will be added so that nurses will be able to scan the patient's identification, their own badge, and the drug that is due for that patient, to reduce medication errors.