TO EMAR OR NOT TO EMAR! THAT IS THE QUESTION!
So the “big question” is “Should we implement an eMAR system?”
Before you can answer this question you must answer the following questions:
What are the benefits of eMAR?
Whose eMAR do we implement?
How do we best implement eMAR?
This article will assist you with finding these answers.
Benefits of eMAR
eMAR is probably one of the top 5 conversations in long term care pharmacies and communities throughout the country. Managed Health Care Associates (MHA) completed a survey of member pharmacies and one of the data points collected was how many pharmacies are utilizing an eMAR platform. The chart below represents their findings from 2012 – 2015.
Survey Year MHA Member Pharmacies % of eMAR Utilization
2012 919 37%
2013 1,010 48%
2014 1,092 56%
2015 1,145 56%
Why should you implement eMAR?
Everyone in our industry is concerned with adhering to the “Five Rights of Medication Administration”, right patient, right drug, right dose, right route, and right time. A properly implemented eMAR will not only assist your community with adhering to these rights but it will also provide the following benefits:
Reduce your medication pass time.
Reduce and eliminate medication errors.
Improve resident care.
Eliminate end of month paper MAR recap.
Provide real time medication additions and changes.
Send refill requests direct to your pharmacy.
Whose eMAR do we implement?
Take it from an old pro at implementing eMAR. Don’t start your eMAR provider research by going online and trying to set up demonstrations from every company out there. You will be quickly confused as to which eMAR platform is right for your community. Most long term care communities have a working relationship with their pharmacy provider. Your pharmacy provider is more than likely already developed relationships with eMAR providers. As the MHA study shows out of 1,145 member pharmacies in the US, 56% of them are already working with one or more eMAR providers. Start your research with your pharmacy. See who they are working with or if your pharmacy is among the other 44% not utilizing an eMAR, see if they are willing to dive into the research with you. Remember when you eventually decide on an eMAR platform you will need your pharmacy to be a strong partner and have the resources in place to implement the proper interface between the pharmacy and your eMAR system. Most pharmacies have developed relationships with several companies that offer eMAR and will be responsible for your facilities training during the implementation process. Use your pharmacy’s knowledge and experience to assist in selecting which eMAR package to utilize.
How do we implement eMAR?
The greatest challenge for your community is not selecting the perfect eMAR, it’s managing the change it creates within your community. Most eMAR platforms are fairly simple to learn, with hands on training and time, caregivers will be charting like a pro in no time. So how do you manage the change? Strong partnerships between the eMAR vendor, your pharmacy and your community must be developed.
The eMAR vendor must be focused on support not only during the implementation but well after this stage is complete. After the sales pitch, the training effort, and the implementation process this vendor must be available to the community resolving any issues that may and will arise.
As stated earlier your community must have a strong partnership with your pharmacy provider. This partnership is a key element in the success of the implementation. Your community is now interfaced with your pharmacy and the resident data is a real time link between your community and your pharmacy. Your pharmacy must be willing to appoint a contact person to manage this data. The contact person needs to be well versed in not only the eMAR program but the pharmacy system and the interface between the two systems.
Last, but definitely not least, is your community’s management staff. Without total buy in from your management staff any change being implemented is doomed to fail. Caregivers must see that the community managers are presenting a solid front and assigning valuable resources, materials and time to ensure the success of this project. Your community should appoint a super user that can identify and resolve issues as well as train new staff. Super users must develop a strong partnership with the eMAR vendor and your pharmacy’s contact person.
The key to a successful transition from paper MAR to eMAR is the relational strength between the eMAR vendor, the pharmacy, and the community management team. A strong partnership should be cultivated between a customer-focused eMAR vendor, a knowledgeable pharmacy that is wholly involved, and a community management team that is firmly united.
About the Author
Edward Mason has been in the Long Term Care Pharmacy Industry for over 15 years. His career in LTC Pharmacy started at Medication Technology Systems where he was Product Manager / Implementation & Training Specialist for Robotic Packaging Systems. Having implemented several different eMAR systems over the last 7 years, Ed is fluent in eMAR technologies. In 2013, Ed joined the Mercury Pharmacy Services team as the Director of Technology where he specializes in implementing electronic charting systems into the customer base of Long Term Care Communities. Ed's extensive industry experience and his unwavering commitment to meet the changing needs of Long Term Care Communities have made him a valued resource in the transition to eMAR. For more information contact Ed at firstname.lastname@example.org.