As healthcare undergoes rapid digitization, assisted living communities are recognizing the importance of transitioning from paper-based records to electronic systems. This helps improve care coordination, enhance compliance, and empower caregivers with easy access to resident information. However, with technology options like EMAR, EMR, and EHR, it can be difficult to differentiate between solutions and determine the best fit.
This in-depth guide will help you understand the key distinctions between EMAR, EMR, and EHR as well as provide tips for selecting software that streamlines workflows and supports high-quality resident outcomes specific to your assisted living facility.
EMAR vs EMR vs EHR: What’s the Difference?
Let’s begin by clarifying the terminology:
Electronic Medication Administration Record (EMAR) is a digital version of the traditional paper MAR used to record medication schedules, track compliance, and document any missed doses in real-time at the point of care. While effective for medication management, an EMAR on its own doesn’t capture full clinical data.
Electronic Medical Record (EMR) encompasses a more holistic health record by aggregating all resident data within a single system. This includes medications, diagnoses, vital signs, treatment plans, progress notes, lab/imaging results, and other clinical documents. EMRs automate ordering and result management while offering clinical decision support.
Electronic Health Record (EHR) expands on EMR capabilities with interoperability that securely shares a resident’s complete medical, treatment, and insurance history with outside healthcare providers via connections to hospitals, specialists, and state/national Health Information Exchanges (HIEs). EHRs facilitate comprehensive care coordination.
Choosing the Right Solution for Assisted Living Facilities
When selecting between EMAR, EMR, and EHR software, consider the following:
Current Workflow Assessment – Evaluate current medication administration and documentation processes. An EMAR streamlines existing workflows if digitizing MARs is the priority. EMR/EHR adds further clinical functionality.
Compatibility with Integrated Networks – If residents frequently receive care outside the facility, an EHR supports coordinated care through health information sharing. EMR capabilities may also suffice depending on referral patterns.
Data Management and Analytics Needs – Basic metrics like medication compliance are sufficient with an EMAR. EMR/EHR delivers more robust reporting, population health insights, and analytics for quality improvements.
Mobile Access for Caregivers – Tablets and smartphones allow documenting care at the point of service-enhancing experiences. Ensure proposed solutions offer reliable mobile apps.
Cost Comparison over Lifetime – Consider ongoing maintenance/upgrades rather than just upfront pricing. Subscription models can end up costing more than perpetual licenses over 5-10 years.
Vendor Strengths – Reputation, certifications, implementation experience, and support quality matter long-term. Ask for client references in the assisted living space.
Key Staff Feedback – Involve directors of nursing, care coordinators, MDS coordinators, and other stakeholders in demos and selection process.
Customization Options – Look for configurable solutions allowing forms/workflows to match your community rather than limiting operations.
With these factors in mind, most assisted living communities of 50+ residents will find an EMR ideal for streamlining care while complying with regulations. An EHR adds tremendous value for larger communities with varying levels of care. By comprehensively assessing current and future needs, the right software choice enhances resident well-being through optimized electronic documentation.