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6 EMAR and Medication Best Practices Every Senior Living Community Should Follow


Administering medication is one of the top ways that senior living communities care for their residents’ health and well-being. Many older adults enjoy socializing with their caregivers while receiving medication and appreciate the close monitoring of their health. And family members can rest easy knowing that their loved ones receive the proper medications daily. 

However, even the most attentive healthcare professionals can occasionally make mistakes during the medication administration process. As a result, experts estimate that hundreds of thousands of Americans experience medication-associated errors annually in inpatient and residential communities. To help prevent these mistakes, many senior living communities have implemented electronic Medication Administration Record (eMAR) software. This guide explores the best practices for safe medication administration with this innovative technology. 

6 Best Practices for Using eMAR Software & Safely Administering Medication

Drug administration is a complex process, and mistakes can occur at any step along the way. For instance, a healthcare provider could overlook a resident’s allergy while prescribing medication and choose a drug that causes an allergic reaction. Similarly, a distracted caregiver could mix up two bottles and give a resident the wrong medication. Fortunately, medication errors are preventable with the right tools and practices. 

1. Pick the Right Service 

Choosing the right eMAR software is the first step to developing an efficient and safe medication management system. 

Start by searching for tools created specifically for senior living communities, not hospitals or other healthcare settings. For instance, Eldermark’s eMAR software is designed by former senior living operators and nurses. These experts understand the unique challenges faced by staff in this industry and have tailored every aspect of the software to streamline senior living work. 

You can also protect resident safety by choosing eMAR software with these necessary features: 

  • Automatic Medication Reconciliation: The software will automatically check the list of medications taken by each resident to identify discrepancies, such as duplicate drugs.
  • Safety Alert System: eMAR software will alert staff if it detects adverse drug interactions or potential medication errors. 
  • Error Reporting: In the event of a medication error, the software can generate a report to help senior living operators identify the cause.
  • Real-Time Updates: Software that provides real-time updates to your medication inventory and resident health records ensures you always have the most accurate information. 

2. Use eMAR to Follow the Five R’s 

Healthcare providers can safeguard resident health by following the five rights of medication administration: Give the right dose of the right medication to the right resident at the right time using the right route of administration. 

eMAR software makes it easy to comply with these principles by implementing safeguards like these: 

  • Barcode Scanning: Caregivers scan barcodes on medication containers and resident wristbands before administering drugs to ensure they’ve selected the correct medication. 
  • Notifications: eMAR software can automatically notify staff when it’s time to administer a medication and alert them if they miss a dose. 
  • Medication Identification: eMAR software includes photographs and written descriptions of every drug, preventing dangerous mix-ups between look-alike and sound-alike medications. 
  • Medication Preparation Instructions: eMAR systems decrease the risk of administration errors by providing detailed electronic instructions for medication use. For instance, the software can specify the types of syringes for specific drugs and whether residents should take their medications with food. 
  • Resident Photos: Add each resident’s photo to the eMAR so staff can quickly verify that they’re treating the right person. 

Using eMAR to implement multiple safety checks is especially useful when handling high-alert medications, which have a significant risk of causing harm if administered incorrectly. According to the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) and the Joint Commission, these medications include anticoagulants, insulin, and opioids.

3. Integrate Your eMAR and EHR Software 

Integrate eMAR and electronic health record (EHR) systems to centralize resident data. Together, this software ensures that clinicians and staff have a comprehensive understanding of each resident’s changing needs and medication regimens. 

Say a resident needs to visit the emergency department after they fall and break their arm. Their healthcare providers at the hospital can electronically send discharge instructions and medication orders to the senior living community. The EHR and eMAR will automatically update to include this information and notify staff about the resident’s acute care needs so they can provide prompt interventions. 

4. Pair Your eMAR and Pharmacy Software

Running out of a crucial medication can derail your entire system and send staff into a panic. You can avoid this issue by choosing an eMAR system that integrates with your preferred pharmacy. This software automatically sends new prescriptions and refills to the pharmacy, saving staff time and ensuring you always have the right medication. 

Eldermark’s eMAR has already integrated with over 400 pharmacy partners, so you don’t have to worry about setting up a new system. And if your favorite retailer isn’t already part of our system, our skilled support team can help you coordinate the integration. 

5. Regularly Update Your eMAR Software 

Updating your eMAR software may seem tedious, but it’s a vital part of medication safety. This process ensures your system complies with the latest administration practices and Federal Drug Administration (FDA) regulations. 

Regular updates also ensure that your eMAR remains compatible with other healthcare systems and devices, such as electronic medical records from other healthcare organizations and infusion pumps.  

6. Use Data Analytics For Improved Decision-Making

Integrating eMAR with a data analytics tool like ElderSmarts can give your organization valuable insights and decision support. For instance, data analytics could reveal that several adverse drug events (ADEs) in your community have been caused by staff misinterpreting abbreviations of drug names during order entry. Based on this finding, you could develop workarounds and provide training to prevent future mistakes.  

Upgrade Your Medication Management System With Eldermark’s eMAR Software 

Eldermark’s comprehensive eMAR software has everything you need to administer medication accurately, efficiently, and safely. Our system complies with the latest industry standards and HIPAA regulations, so you can feel confident that you’re providing the best care to your residents. Our eMAR also includes numerous safety features, including single-click refills and seamless integration with clinical assessments. 

Contact us today to schedule a free demo and learn how Eldermark’s eMAR can help your senior living community increase revenue, improve safety, and reduce errors. 

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