The rise of digital technology, such as eMAR (Electronic Medication Administration Record), in the long term care industry, has significantly changed nursing. Due to the improved efficiency of eMARs, traditional paper-form records are slowly being phased out in favor of eMAR nursing software systems.
eMAR software systems are now essential in nursing, as they provide facilities with a legal record of all medication and treatment given to residents. Also, they conveniently organize all data electronically via the long term care EHR that holds the residents’ medical records.
Studies have shown that compared to MAR (Medical Administration Record), eMAR is far more efficient, as it reduces medication errors, increases patient safety, and improves the workflow efficiency of nurses, physicians, and other medical personnel. This is why long term care software is slowly but surely being implemented into facilities.
While there are multiple reasons for facilities to implement eMAR software systems, the most significant advantage is the convenience of remote access. For nurses, this is particularly beneficial, as it allows them to view and update resident records while they are beside the resident, improving the accuracy of nursing documentation.
What Is eMAR in Healthcare?
As the popularity of eMAR nursing grows, some facility administrators who are still on the fence about implementing eMAR software may ask, what is eMAR in healthcare and why is it important? Below, we will answer these questions to highlight the value of eMAR software for administrators.
Medical errors are still a leading cause of death in healthcare. Medical errors occur when nurses are:
- Interrupted during medication administration
- Overwhelmed with tasks
- Disorganized in documenting care
- Careless about labeling medication
Fortunately, eMAR nursing software can offset human errors by improving the efficiency of nursing procedures. Capable eMAR software systems have built-in features that prioritize resident safety, reduce medical errors, and improve usability. In terms of eMAR nursing processes, most long term care software systems will include the following capabilities:
- Access to resident data between authorized medical staff on integrated medical devices
- Latest updates on hospital policies and procedures related to medication administration
- Real-time resident clinical results
- Communication between nurses, pharmacists, and other medical staff
- State-of-the-art bar code eMAR identification, which is used to verify a resident’s identity; it can substantially reduce order transcription and medication administration errors
- eCharting orders displaying relevant resident information, such as resident’s date of birth, sex, physician, allergies, and other relevant nursing alerts
- Automated verification of the “five rights” (right patient, right medication, right dosage, right route, and right time)
4 Advantages of eMAR Nursing in Healthcare
eMAR nursing documentation is not only far more efficient, but it is more thorough and transferable than paper documentation. This means that it is less likely that particular details in the file of a resident or patient will be overlooked. And the appropriate treatment or medication can be administered far more rapidly. Here are four of the main advantages of eMAR nursing:
Tracking and Tracing Capability
eMAR software can track and trace data for every treatment and medication administered to residents. Without such technology, tracking and tracing would be complicated, especially if there are piles of disorganized paper documentation. Nurses who use paper documentation have lower workflow efficiency levels than nurses who use eMAR nursing software.
When using paper documentation, nurses find that they waste hours trying to decode illegible handwritten notes. Meanwhile, nurses who use eMAR software with a built-in electronic Kardex save countless hours every day simply because they can pull up resident data quicker and easier and immediately know what they are looking at.
Furthermore, nurses using eMAR software can easily monitor resident activities, records, and medications. This is because resident data comes color-coded, alerting nurses to any changes in a resident’s condition at a glance.
Many long term care software systems will include an alert system that ensures residents receive the correct medication dosage at the correct time, thus reducing human error and medical errors. These sorts of notifications will appear in an electronic Kardex.
Adopting the use of a long term care EHR enables facility nurses to capture real-time data while standing next to residents. Resident data, therefore, is more up-to-date. Furthermore, because the data is electronic, it can be stored in a centralized location rather than in a facility’s filing cabinet. This allows for easy access by authorized staff in the facility and encourages better communication between facilities and pharmacies.
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How to Implement eMAR Training
Before a long term care facility administrator implements an eMAR software system, they must also consider how much eMAR training is needed. If they fail to provide sufficient eMAR training for their team, neither the team nor the nursing home software will work as designed. Also, the administrator will not achieve the desired results.
Therefore, when introducing an eMAR nursing software system, an administrator must first address the following questions:
- How long does it take to train the team to use the eMAR software system?
- What resources and tools are available to make eMAR training easier?
- What is the best method of keeping staff trained when using the eMAR software?
eMAR Training Time
Implementing any new system takes time and patience. Administrators need to understand that proper medication management training will have varying timeframes. Administrators may even encounter some initial reluctance from staff who wonder what is eMAR in healthcare and why it is necessary. In such cases, administrators need to allow sufficient time for staff training, ensuring everyone fully understands how to use the nursing home software.
Some staff members will naturally be more tech-savvy than others. This means that while some staff may need an hour of training, others may require two hours or more. It is essential that every staff member can log in and out of different medical devices securely, navigate the system properly, correctly log medication and treatments, and flag alerts.
Another essential factor to consider is how user-friendly the eMAR software is. If the software is intuitive and easy to understand, then there is a higher chance of getting staff on board with the software and reaping all of the eMAR benefits.
The Role of Superusers
Identifying the “superusers,” or, tech-savvy individuals at the facility is a great way to reduce training time. A superuser will be able to take on the role of being the eMAR software expert in the facility. Superusers can assist and train other team members in using the nursing home software, thus ensuring everyone is on the same page while saving the facility time and money spent on outside training.
eMAR Training Tools and Resources
Knowing what training resources an eMAR software provider has is always worthwhile. The top eMAR software providers will provide a variety of training modules and programs. Some even offer free online training modules designed with flexibility in mind. This means that nurses can study independently and work around their busy schedules.
Keeping Staff Trained
As mentioned earlier, medical errors and inaccurate medication reporting can have fatal consequences. When implementing a new eMAR software system, all staff members must be competent and confident in using the software. Failure to do so puts the residents and the business in jeopardy.
Therefore, it is always good to provide top-up training sessions whenever possible. Other ways to keep staff trained include:
- Schedule training day drop-ins (e.g., every three to six months) – The superusers or the administrator can run these to ensure there are no new issues that staff are unsure of.
- Send reminder emails to cover the basics – It is a good idea to send bitesize email reminders on how to use the eMAR software. Even if things are going well, sending a quick email will reinforce their training in bitesize chunks.
- Shadow the team – When possible, schedule a time to shadow the team to ensure everyone uses the eMAR software system correctly. If there are any problems, then correct these with additional training or guidance.
The Benefits of eMAR Nursing
The many advantages of eMAR nursing and eMAR software, such as eliminating paperwork, reducing medical errors, and improving communication, allow a facility to run more efficiently and effectively.
Factor in the advanced reporting features, warning alerts, and financial integrations of the software, and it becomes clear that eMAR systems help teams provide more reliable and safe care to residents. This, of course, requires serious dedication to training staff on how to use the eMAR software system and following up to ensure that no new issues arise.