Investing in the right electronic medication management system can make all the difference for care home providers. When implemented properly, an electronic medication management system can help achieve immediate and substantial reductions. These reductions in preventable medication errors, as well as organisation-wide efficiencies, can be invaluable in ttoday’s penny pinching environment.

There is a range of medication management software providers currently in the market. The question is how do you decide which one is going to be the right fit for you and your organisation? To help you better evaluate the merits of medication management software providers, here are nine questions to consider asking.

1. Does the software have the depth to create efficiencies throughout the end-to-end process of medication management?

The terms electronic medication management and electronic medication administration records (eMAR) are often used loosely and interchangeably when in actual fact, the two are quite different. We have explained the differences between the two terms in this post.

It is important for care home providers to understand these differences between the two. It is not until eMAR is incorporated within an electronic medication management system that its full efficiencies can be realised.

Electronic medication management software that supports eMAR is highly effective. It supports all of the key processes that care home staff are responsible for when it comes to medication management. It is taken from the point of prescribing, through to dispensing, checking in, administration and monitoring. Whereas, some eMAR solutions on the market only focus on efficiencies in medication administration.

Another factor to consider is how aligned the software is to the individual care home’s business processes. Edge cases will inevitably crop up and an electronic medication management system needs to have the capacity to deal with the on-the-ground realities of the care home sector. So configurability, flexibility and personalisation to suit the unique requirements of any organisation are all a necessity.

2. Does the medication management software support integration across clinical and care management systems? 

Integration between systems is critical in order for maximum efficiencies to be gained through the implementation of technology. Consequently, there is growing demand for medication management software. Software that enables the integration of residents’ medication and clinical care information.

Electronic medication management systems that integrate with clinical systems allow information to be automatically updated. This information can then be recorded within daily notes, eliminating the need to rely on human memory. Having one electronic source for residents’ medication and clinical care information can help to reduce the risk of medication errors. This leads to greater integrity in relation to medication management and improvements to the quality of care. It can also lead to obvious improvements in risk management and data security – a plus for all care home organisations.

Most electronic medication management systems supply a single electronic record for each resident. They should also facilitate the seamless flow of this information between the care home and pharmacists. When considering an electronic medication management system it is important to ensure integration is possible. You’ll also need to ensure that the software complements the existing clinical systems. Systems must align with workflows already in use throughout the care process.

3. Does the medication management software support integration and messaging with pharmacies?

Electronic medication management systems that do not support integration with pharmacy systems are less effective. They will find it harder to reduce medication errors. If a medication management system is not sourcing the medication data direct from the pharmacy system in real time, then the likelihood of data entry duplication increases, along with administrative errors. Having an electronic medication management system that integrates with pharmacy systems will ensure a clear audit trail of communications. This relates to residents’ medication requirements. The integration helps to eliminate unnecessary duplication of data and associated errors. This also increases efficiencies between the pharmacy and the care home.

Another factor to consider is how important it is to you and your care home organisation to have complete flexibility. Is choice yours over your medication supplier and Dose Administration Aids (DAA), now and into the future? Most providers tend to steer away from medication management software that locks the organisation into using only one pharmacy. When evaluating medication management software, it’s prudent to ensure that integration with pharmacy dispensing and packing systems is supported.

4. How does the medication management software enforce compliance measures?

It is vital that electronic medication management systems support accreditation requirements by enforcing the six Rs of safe medication administration – right resident, right medication, right route, right dose, right documentation and right time.

Will the proposed software comprise intuitive safety alerts and warnings that automatically prompt staff to comply with the highest standard of medication administration procedures? Does the functionality of the software prevent staff from proceeding with medication administration until an electronic signature, date and time stamp has been captured and recorded? Does the solution also offer safeguards against the compliance risks associated with the administration of PRN ‘as required’ medications?

If the answer is ‘yes’, the medication management software will help ensure that your own medication administration is managed safely and correctly, according to relevant legislation and regulatory requirements.

5. Is the medication management software user-friendly?

When it comes to electronic medication management systems, the user experience is of paramount importance. It is essential that the software is truly fit for purpose by serving all users – registered nurses, care staff or other authorised members of staff – regardless of the individual’s IT capabilities and confidence.

In our experiences, electronic medication management systems are welcomed by the majority of staff within care homes. When the software interface is clear, simple and easy to use it allows people to focus on the main aspects of their job. The in-built workflows should also be the outcome of extensive product development, testing and refinement. This will ensure the processes don’t add to staff workloads but instead, complement existing medication management processes.

6. How reliable is the medication management software?

This is perhaps the single most important question to ask a prospective software provider. As with any industry, there are many providers who over-promise and under-deliver. Therefore, it’s essential to see the software in action so you can be certain that it performs in the way you expect.

Insist on seeing a real-time demonstration of medication management software. You will need to view this in a live environment so you can make a more informed decision. Can the software provider give a demonstration within an environment similar in size and workflow to your own organisation?

Medication administration is a business critical activity for care homes. The reliability requires robust business continuity plans in order to deal with any type of system failure – from the hardware to the internet connection.

So ask for success stories and references so you can be sure that their solution works as good in practice, as it does in theory. A reputable software provider will be happy to show you success stories of existing clients that can attest to real results, and a return on investment.

7. How secure is the data within the electronic medication management system?

It is essential to find out how and where your data will be stored, as well as what security measures are in place to protect that data. From there, determine that these processes meet the data privacy requirements for the social care industry. Additionally, does the software provider have an adequate disaster recovery plan in place?

8. What is the total investment required to support the medication management software?

Firstly, it’s never a good idea to invest in medication management software based on the price factor alone. This is because price is not necessarily an accurate indicator of quality. Instead, approach meetings with software providers with a formulated list of what your organisation requires. Then evaluate the proposed solution based on how well it delivers on that criteria. You should also think about what it will achieve for you in the short term and the long term.

Secondly, when considering the overall investment, be sure to gain a clear understanding of the hardware and infrastructure. There is much learning to be done on devices such as computers, laptops, mobile devices, internet connections, and other technology. Devices like these may play a role in supporting the software. We also recommend finding out if the software works with existing hardware and infrastructure, or if upgrades will be required.

9. How established is the software provider in the market?

When doing due diligence on potential software providers, be sure to ask tough questions around the organisation’s maturity in the market. Seek out answers to whether or not the software provider has a sustainable, long-term business strategy. Research how established they already are in the market. You can determine this by checking how many beds the software provider currently has under licence for their software.

10. What is the software provider’s approach towards ongoing product development?

It’s important to get a clear idea of a prospective software provider’s approach to product development and innovation. This is to ensure that you’re not falling prey to a solution that will need replacing after a couple of years.

What strategies does the provider have in place for ongoing product development and future upgrades? What is their policy regarding piloting and investing in new programs? Are they pioneering any new, related technologies?

It also helps to understand how future product release cycles and upgrades are managed and how this may affect your organisation. Are there measures in place to ensure minimal disruption to your delivery of care throughout these periods?

11. What is the software provider’s approach to training and implementation?

Successfully facilitating the transition between a paper-based system and an electronic medication management system is challenging. A dedicated change management approach that includes appropriate communication and training for staff is essential.

Does the software provider offer a flexible implementation and training program? Does it meet the needs of all stakeholders, particularly to suit the availability of GP and pharmacy staff? Do they have dedicated training consultants that understand the on-the-ground realities of the social care sector? Do they provide a unique support line or contact person for new client implementations? What is the typical response time? Do they offer adequate training on how to use electronic medication management? Do they ensure the rights of the resident receiving the medications remains the priority throughout the process? And importantly, how do they assist in the development of staff competency in computer basics, prior to the software training?

12. What level of ongoing support is provided after the implementation of the software?

It’s sometimes difficult to gauge in the beginning, whether or not a software provider is committed to supporting your organisation long after the service agreement has been signed. A good indication of this is to determine the level of ongoing support that will be provided after implementation of the software.

Find out what level of support is included in the contract and if support will be available indefinitely. Partner with a software provider who can offer an adequate level of ongoing, personalised support along with your agreement. Ideally, you should have access to a support team 24 hours a day, seven days a week via multiple support channels.

 

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