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Long term care facilities are increasingly discovering the benefits of eMAR (Electronic Medication Administration Record), medication chart software that assists in ordering, tracking, and distributing medications. Long term care software, also known as eMAR software, enables the distribution of medication and treatments to be carried out safely, efficiently, and cost-effectively. 

nursing home resident with medicine
Sophisticated eMAR software is versatile and easy to use.

Prior to eMAR, nurses in nursing homes and Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs) would use a paper Medication Administration Record (MAR). Then came 2009, the year of change in healthcare, when the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) was passed. In the act, $25.8 billion was allocated by the federal government for health information technology investments ( eMAR software and other nursing home software) and incentive payments.

This legislation was prompted by the fact that medication errors in healthcare had become all too common. This accords with the findings of the National Library of Medicine, which notes that 30% of injuries due to drugs—in hospitals—result from medication errors. That is why eMAR and other care plan software, like long term care EHR, are specifically designed to minimize such errors. 

So exactly how does eMAR work? At the very basic level, the process looks like this: 

  • A nurse or care coordinator creates a medication schedule for a patient or resident using eMAR software. Detailed information about the medication type, the dosage, frequency, and how drugs are to be administered are entered into the  eMAR software
  • This information is then immediately updated to nurses’ and caregivers’ devices for them to access during their shifts.
  • While providing medication, nurses can immediately update the record on when medication was administered as well as any other additional notes or observations
  • The online records are updated and can immediately be accessed by nursing home administrators.
  • Administrators review and sign off on the records, and care agencies can keep track of all medications administered in real-time.

Of course, more advanced systems, like Experience Care’s eMAR, allow for more flexibility and accessibility. You can use this nursing home software to:

Build a list of residents using the criteria of location, shift, pass time, and route(s)of administration. Use eCharting to read the data provided by NetSolutions’ Physician Orders module and then assemble resident orders that meet the criteria. You can further sort by name, location, or odd/even rooms.

View an eCharting page for each resident in the session. You can see orders, including PRN orders, by selecting them. Boxes are color-coded to highlight late orders, new orders, orders due during this session, orders due in an upcoming session, and orders held.

Click Yes for each medication/treatment administered when the session begins, and the box will turn white. If an order is held, one can check No and document the reason. For orders flagged to require a vitals check or documentation, the system displays the appropriate window. If one notices a low medication supply, clicking the Reorder button will add a request to the order processing system using the ePrescribing functionality. 

After a resident’s medication/treatment pass is complete, one can move on to the Next/Previous resident or a specific resident in the group. Additionally, one can use barcoding to navigate to another resident. The system will issue alerts for any orders missed for a previous resident.

When the session is complete, the system displays a summary page with statistics for the session. These include start time, end time, elapsed time, PRN orders, totals for residents, delivered medications, treatments, plus any held, late, or missed orders.

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Medication Administration Record (MAR)

In recent years, long term care has moved away from the use of Medication Administration Record (MAR) documentation. This is because, as inSync notes, nursing homes faced many issues when handling MAR’s upkeep, and they included:

  1. Staff would forget to write down what medication was administered as well as the relevant time.
  2. Healthcare providers failed to properly schedule nurse shift changes, resulting in residents being neglected.
  3. The paper itself was often easily lost, resulting in a resident’s medical history also being lost.
  4. Documentation was sometimes illegible, resulting in residents being administered the wrong medication.

Electronic Medication Record

The four issues associated with MAR help highlight the recent trend toward electronic medication record documentation. So what is eMAR? As NCI notes, an electronic medication record or Electronic Health Record (EHR) is a collection of medical information about a patient’s health history. It includes diagnoses, medicines (eMAR software), tests, allergies, immunizations, and patient/ resident treatment plans. 

nursing documenting on a kardex
EHR systems are an easy way to maximize accuracy and
efficiency when documenting care.

An eMAR system can be used to reduce medication errors, facilitate ePrescribing, and alert staff to pressing needs of residents. But eMAR systems are so much more. So what are other advantages of EHR systems?

  • Accurate, up-to-date resident information
  • Quick access to medical information
  • Easy sharing of resident information for coordinated, efficient care
  • Improved diagnoses and resident outcomes
  • More robust resident and provider interaction and communication
  • Safer and more reliable prescribing
  • Streamlined coding and billing
  • Greater privacy and security of resident information
  • Enhanced productivity and work-life balance
  • Improved business efficiency

The 9 Ways eMAR Increases Financial Efficiency

Clearly, eMARs increase your efficiency. And that, naturally, results in greater financial health for your facility. Here are some ways you and your team can widen your profit margins by using a long term care software system: 

  1. More timely reports: An eMAR system allows for the quick generation of reports, meeting regulatory requirements and leading to more reimbursements.
  2. Accelerated processes: Using nursing home software is easy, which means you will soon gain increased worker efficiency through automation of medication and the generation of quick, detailed records and reports.
  3. Fewer medication errors and missed dosages: Fewer medication errors mean that a nursing home is less likely to have residents suffer from harm, resulting in fewer f-tags, lawsuits, and fewer citations.
  4. Maximizing nurses’ time: Because a long term care software system does not require the need for paper, your staff will have more time to tend to their tasks. Additionally, it is easy to record and retrieve important patient/ resident medication information. As a result, more time is spent providing care to residents instead of sifting through records.
  5. Less stress for workers: Stress and distress in nursing can be a problem, as it can result in lower job satisfaction and worsen the quality of care for residents. When nurses are less stressed, they perform their jobs better, and the SNF has a low turnover rate. Hence, less time and money is spent hiring new nurses to replace those who have left.
  6. Drug interaction warnings: The way that drugs affect a patient/ resident’s body changes when they are taken with other drugs. An eMAR software system can provide nurses with alerts regarding drug interactions, preventing harmful combinations from ever occurring.
  7. Improved communication between healthcare providers and the pharmacy: The best ePrescribing software has a feature that allows for direct communication with pharmacies. A nursing home can, thus, immediately send a PRN order to a pharmacy, reducing the chances of errors and saving time.
  8. Real-time documentation and supervision: Long term care software systems ease the supervision process, as medication records can easily be accessed remotely. This reduces the chances of errors and enables remote medication supervision by physicians and nursing home administrators.
  9. Ease of audits and inventory control: Nursing home software systems make it easy for nursing homes to keep track of their medications. Additionally, reports can be generated to indicate which medications are not being used, which medications are about to expire, and which medication needs to be restocked.

Summary of eMAR Benefits in Long Term Care

As has become clear, eMAR is far superior to the long-used paper alternative, Medication Administration Record (MAR). Long term care administrators who have not yet done so should strongly consider moving from MAR to eMAR, as the financial benefits are enormous. Additionally, healthcare providers must do their part by complying with the  American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and thus facilitate the transition from paper to electronic records.

doctor recommending medication on a video call
eMAR has long surpassed paper-charting and
is now becoming an industry standard.

When looking to move to eMAR software, nursing home administrators should consider the following:

  • Ease of implementation: Is the installation of the software complicated? Can nurses quickly learn how to use all of its features? Do they offer training courses? How much does the training cost?
  • Hardware requirements: Is special hardware needed? Is the hardware already in the facility, or does it need to be purchased?
  • The redundancies: What happens if you lose WiFi connection? Is there a backup system in place? What happens if the hardware fails? Are there backups of the data?
  • Time: Will the medicine rounds be shorter or longer? How long does it take to retrieve data? How long does it take to input data?
  • Integrations: Can it integrate well with the current systems being used in the facility? Does it have add-ons? How much do the add-ons cost?
  • Security: What user permissions does it offer? Is the data secured with encryption?
  • The provider: What company is providing this software? Who have they worked with in the past? What are the product reviews?
  • Cost: How much does the software cost? Is it expensive to maintain? Are the benefits worth the cost?

For more on recent trends in long term care, read our blog and subscribe to the LTC Heroes podcast