Blog by Mark Wolfe, Customer Account Representative, GrandView Pharmacy

In today’s environment, health care facilities are being asked to do more with less. Never has that simple statement been truer than in the long-term care setting. The digital age has helped bridge the gap for much of the time consuming, tedious, yet vitally important areas of healthcare such as communicating with physicians, hospital discharge planners, pharmacy and insurance companies. One time-saving solution in long term care has been the use of eMAR (Electronic Medication Administration Records). This Health IT tool can save time when passing meds, reordering meds or changes in orders. It eliminates the nurse or pharmacist from having to decipher varieties of handwriting or scribbles, and the changes in orders intended by the healthcare providers. It also significantly reduces paperwork since it records documentation instantly, reminds care staff of information to be communicated with patient, family and anyone along the care chain.

However, as with most systems in life, for every benefit (pro) provided by a new computerized system there may be unforeseen disadvantages (con). Healthcare professionals from nurses, to pharmacists, to physicians tend to rely on the eMAR too much and fail to do their own research or ask additional questions. To rely too heavily on eMAR removes the healthcare providers from the one-on-one level of care for patients. It can sometimes prevent healthcare providers from asking who, what, when, where and why? It is this writer’s contention that asking the “Why is that?” question is too often over looked. According to a report published by the ECRI Institute and the Pennsylvania Safety Advisory, some unanticipated problems in medication management have cropped up with the introduction of new technologies in healthcare settings.(1)

Researchers found that 889 medication errors in provider reports submitted between January 1 and June 30, 2016 cited health IT systems as a contributing cause of the problem, according to Stanley Lawes, PharD, BCPS, and Matthew Grissinger, RPh, FISMP. While eMAR is not the only health IT product being used, it is a very common system used today. Providers often pointed to computerized prescriber order entry systems, the pharmacy system, and the eMAR as the health IT systems partially responsible for the issues.

While eMAR is a valuable tool, it cannot compromise the one-one one level of care for patients. A combination of in-person care and digital recording of information is the most efficient way physicians and patients communicate and information is recorded (2). This is vitally important for EVERYONE involved within the care chain… physicians, pharmacists, pharmacy techs, nurses and QMAs. Those entering data should not be distracted as they enter information into eMAR. They should also understand that the entire electronic prescription, email, note should be read thoroughly. The need for effective communication is always important. Those within the care chain should be sure to ask the “Why is that?” By asking the question, perhaps more med errors might be eliminated.

GrandView Pharmacy strives to improve the use of health IT systems wherever and whenever possible. If you have concerns, reach out to your facility’s GrandView Pharmacy Account Manager and /or the GrandView Pharmacy Consultant Pharmacist to discuss areas of communication that can be improved.

1. EHR Intelligence, “Health IT Systems Partly Responsible for Medication Errors”, April 11, 2017.

2. MED e-care Blog, “The Benefits of eMAR”, Alana Rennie; July 13, 2017.

About the Author

Click here to learn more about Mark and the rest of the GrandView team.