While technology adoption in long-term care (LTC) has often lagged behind other sectors, facilities are increasingly seeing the benefits of advancements such as Electronic Medical Administration Records (eMARs). As another step to ensure quality medication management, excellent patient care, and the best possible outcomes, PharMerica and Aline have partnered to bring the Aline eMAR system to LTC communities. This is a flexible, cloud-based eMAR solution that securely manages resident medical records and medication administration for improved efficiency, safety, and compliance, and offers a seamless integration with PharMerica’s pharmacy team.
Why eMAR systems?
eMAR systems encourage more effective communication between clinicians and other team members, which is important when they aren’t always on site at the same time. Through eMARs, physicians and pharmacists can exchange real-time messages, leave notes or instructions, and respond quickly to questions and concerns. A complete profile for each resident enables team members to have access to the same accurate, up-to-date medication information. At the same time, eMARs make it easy for clinicians to manage prescriptions by tracking medications from order to administration to refills to dose reductions.
At a time when communities are short-staffed and everyone is overburdened, eMARs reduce documentation, paperwork, and other administrative tasks to save time and energy. Some studies have even shown that eMARs can reduce staff labor hours by 50% or more. When teams are more efficient and less overwhelmed, stress and burnout also are reduced.
As Marti Wdowicki, Director of Clinical Operations, South, at PharMerica, explains, “eMAR is a better way to manage clinical documentation, and this leads to better decision making and outcomes. It reduces medical errors because the team has an effective, efficient way to document and administer medications in a more sophisticated and technologically enhanced way.” She adds, “It’s also a better way of ordering medications and getting them in the system and to the resident.”
The Problem with eMARs… Solved
One reason behind low adoption of technology in LTC is that it often is designed based on hospital systems. Aline eMAR was developed with senior housing/LTC communities in mind and addresses the workflows, challenges, and processes of these care settings.
“This targeted system is more effective at helping staff manage their daily activities. And it also gives them peace of mind. Because of the hybrid cloud architecture, if connectivity fails, people still have access to their data. That is huge, as connectivity issues in nursing homes and assisted living is a greater concern that many of us can appreciate,” Wdowicki says, adding, “Diversion control of medications is another huge issue. This system allows facilities to reinforce the manual check on every shift for added security and confidence.”
The Pharmacy-Centric Advantage
Aline eMAR is pharmacy-centric, meaning that information is available to the pharmacy and the facility in real time. Wdowicki explains, “When you order a medication, you know that the pharmacy receives it and if there is a prior authorization issue or other concern or question. You don’t have to wait for a call or a fax.”
The team at PharMerica is well-versed and fully integrated with the software, so they can quickly pick up if there are breakdowns in the system; and they can identify and address irregularities. “We know the facilities and prescribers and can identify issues or red flags quickly. We then can resolve them on the spot,” Wdowicki observes.
“The number one medication administration error is a missed or incorrectly administered dose,” says Anthony Crofoot, National Account Executive at Glennis Solutions. He stresses, “These are particularly prevalent in facilities with more manually based processes.” eMAR helps prevent these errors by streamlining processes so that staff know what medication to give, when, how and in what form and dosage, with a barcode on packaging as a final safety net. He notes, “In training people on this system, I’ve seen medication errors prevented right before my eyes.”
At the same time, Crofoot says, “Having real-time alerts assures better resident outcomes and helps improve compliance and accurate documentation.” Between this system and PharMerica’s pharmacy services, facilities can be “survey ready” at all times regarding medications, he observes. This partnership also makes it easier for staff to see if there are residents who don’t want to take their medications or are taking too many medications. eMAR provides pharmacists with greater transparency and access to full patient records. This enables them to identify and prevent problems, whether they are in the facility or in their home or office 20 miles away.
Less Stress, More Satisfaction for Staff
Crofoot says, “I’m a big believer that most errors are human-related and due to people being rushed or systems that are too complicated to use. Having something that is as error-proof as possible will only provide better outcomes for residents and staff.” A system like Aline eMAR that streamlines processes, involves fewer steps, and doesn’t add to or interrupt workflow makes staff’s jobs easier and more satisfying, he says.
With staff turnover at all-time highs, it is important to have an eMAR that requires minimum training and is easy to use. Crofoot says, “New users can go from zero to 60 quickly on eMAR, with minimum time required for training because the system is intuitive and guides them quickly into competence.”
Beating the Bottom-Line Blues
The bottom line is also positively impacted by an efficient eMAR. By enabling more timely reports, accelerated processes, and fewer medication errors and missed dosages, medication management is more cost-effective with fewer unexpected expenses.
Wdowicki says, “One reason facilities have been slow to adopt technology is the cost. However, eMAR is much more economical. Based on size of the facility or the portfolio, costs can start as low as $2.50 per resident per month.” In light of the medication-related problems it prevents and the staff time it saves, the return on investment can be significant. “The more medications a resident is taking, the greater the risk is for an adverse event. Communities can lean on this automation to prevent these events and even help identify opportunities to reduce the number of medications in a resident’s regimen,” she says.
Fits Like a Glove
Of course, automation doesn’t mean one-size-fits-all. PharMerica’s local experts and dedicated IT team work in tandem to understand each customer’s unique needs for seamless technology implementation, and ongoing support that delivers comprehensive benefits to the community, residents, and staff. Now with the partnership between Aline and PharMerica, communities have the best of technology, automation, pharmacy services, and medication management, all designed specifically for the senior housing/LTC setting.
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