Medication processes are rigorous and laborious, but rightly so. The risks associated with the administration of medicines are extremely high, which can result in fatal consequences. Due to this, you can understand why MAR (Medication Administration Records) charts are so thorough.  However, with huge developments in the technology sector, I thought this blog post comparing the differences between MAR’s and eMAR would be fitting. What is the point? What do I get out of it? How does it benefit my residents? Well….let me try and shed some light for you.

What is a MAR chart?

MAR charts are in place to serve a simple purpose; to ensure the 6 R’s are adhered to. Right medication, Right resident,  Right dose, Right route, Right time and the Right documentation. If you have all 6 of these in place, you are administering your medicines correctly, and most of all, safely! However, it is also a time consuming process. When you are an integral part of a busy care home or nursing home, it can be hard to stay on top of your MAR’s whilst dealing with the other day-to-day tasks which occur at the most inconvenient time.

There have been a few solutions put in place to counter act this, blister packs, for example. However, this is more of a case of moving the risk rather than minimizing the risk. So, the question is, how can you stay in full control of the medicines you’re administering whilst still gaining additional safeguarding measures?

Well….eMAR can provide this for you.

eMAR with original pack  medicines (also known as patient pack dispensing) gives you the best of both worlds. You still remain fully in control of the medicines your resident/patience takes, rather than trusting the blister pack is accurate, however, you’re still gaining additional benefits from strong workflows built within the eMAR software.

eMAR is providing care home facilities and pharmacies with the increased capacity to manage residents’ medication needs. iCareHealth medication management software supports eMAR functionality to produce an electronic record for each resident, and captures important information in real time at the point of administration. Comprehensive medication records for residents can then be shared electronically between the care home and pharmacy, contributing significantly to a reduction in preventable errors, and improvements in the safety and quality of resident care.

With software that supports an evidence-based approach to medication management, you will also have greater flexibility to tailor medication management solutions for the care home’s residents.

The right software solution also seamlessly integrates with many pharmacy medication record (PMR) systems, enabling a single data entry point to be utilised for these processes. A single source of information works to improve efficiencies, while reducing the risk of dispensing errors that can occur with multiple entries.

Benefits of going digital…

Risk

The management of your residents medication is risky business. Which, unfortunately, is just the nature of the beast. There are so many stages in the medication process which are liable to risk, and this wont ever change. However, the adoption of technology can help mitigate these risks. eMAR solutions such as ours, have robust workflows built in. If you are checking and entering data correctly, the system will make it very difficult for you to make a mistake. There is always the element of human error, as we tell our clients, the software is only as good as the data that is being entered into it. Providing your data is correct, eMAR solutions will not allow you to administer excess doses of medicines, nor administer medicines at the wrong time….unless of course, there is a valid reason.

We have also observed a 30% reduction in PRN usage with our clients since introducing iCareMeds. This then reduces the risk of polypharmacy and medicine waste, ensuring the medication that your residents are taking are performing the way they should.  In addition, missed signatures become a thing of the past, our system will alert continually when medicines which have not been administered at the correct time. Click here to see for yourself more benefits of Electronic Medication Management.

eMAR is no magic elixir. It will not absolutely guarantee you won’t have any medication errors, but is does do is provide additional safeguards to both your residents, and your team. There was a tragic story from one of our clients, where a resident had died in hospital as a result of a medication error. Naturally, the coroner launched an investigation towards the care home. However, the home in question had our eMAR solution in place, meaning they could provide all the information in regards to the medication that resident had been given whilst in their care. The investigation then turned towards the hospital, which is where the medication error was found to have taken place. Without having this information available at their fingertips, the investigation may well have taken another turn.

Auditing

Leading on from the previous point of the availability of data, eMAR solutions also make medication audits much easier. Instead of having to sift through hundreds of pages of your residents MAR charts, you have a plethora of reports to find and collate this data for you. This is where the power of data really comes into its own. CQC inspections? You no longer have to worry about having everything prepared- because you’re always prepared!

Inventory Management

Now I’m not promising you won’t ever have to do a manual stock check again…however, they certainly won’t have to be as frequently if you’re using an eMAR solution. As I keep saying, the software is only as good as the information which is being entered into it. So if you’re ensuring the medicines are being checked into the home correctly, and administered correctly, your eMAR solution will always have an accurate inventory list. With this being said, you do still need to do manual stock checks to ensure your team are displaying best practice, however, this is more for an audit purpose rather than for monthly orders. It really is a time saver!

The ‘Cons’

I am very aware that I have been a little ‘pro-eMAR’, and that’s because I genuinely believe it’s the way forward for all care/nursing homes. But if I had to highlight one con, I guess it would be the transition period. From previous experience, it can be tough to get everyone on-board. You need to have your whole team to be on your side to make the project a success, which can be hard especially if you have an ‘old school’ workforce. To overcome this, it is vital to communicate the benefits to your team. Not just the benefits to the business, but the benefits to their team as well as individually. The Health & Social Care industry has been rather technophobic in the past, however, this is quickly changing. Regulators are now commending care organisations for using technology which enhances the outcomes for organisations. This does not mean purchasing software left-right and centre will gain you an ‘Outstanding’ rating, however, if you justify the adoption of technology with improved results you will see an improved rating. We have a blog post on 12 questions to ask before investing in an Electronic Medication Management Solution here.

To wrap up

There are a plethora is benefits for going digital with your medication processes. No more flicking through pages and pages of MARs. No more last minute panics when the inspector comes knocking at the door. No more squinting to read your colleagues hand writing. eMAR is the future, I can’t stress enough how many safety barriers you will benefit from by adopting an electronic system. Everything is auditable and available at your fingertips. However, I also appreciate that eMAR costs money. I would recommend that you not only see it as an investment, but also an insurance policy. You can have the peace of mind knowing that everything is in place and above board providing you’re using it correctly. No more loose pages or folders which can get lost.

If you like what you hear, or if you have any questions around how eMAR could fit into your home, then please do get in touch.