eMAR: how to choose an eMAR system for your dom care business

eMAR system on screen on wooden desk mac book pro
Birdie's eMAR 

If you work in home care, you’ll be familiar with paper MAR (Medication Administration Record) sheets and their importance in helping to keep track of the types and frequency of medication that a person takes. 

If you find that collecting these sheets and auditing them at the end of the week, or month, is painful, that’s where eMAR medication systems can help. 

What is an eMAR medication system?

An eMAR system is simply your MAR chart, but ‘electronic’ (or digital). 

Most eMAR medication systems replicate the sheets you use every day, but allow you to complete them online (usually with an app) and review them from a computer, wherever you are. 

How to choose an eMAR system

You’re already reading this, which is an excellent start because the first step is to: 

Do your research

As we mentioned before, not all eMAR software is created equal. If you’ve already had a quick Google search you’ve probably seen options from loads of companies, and you might be feeling a little overwhelmed. Our blog here outlines some of the systems available and helps you to choose the best for your business. Why not check it out before making your decision?

Get a demo (or five!)

Most home care software companies that offer eMAR systems will provide a free demo. Don’t worry, there’s no obligation to buy at this stage, and we recommend having a few before you decide. Think about the following things during the demo and if possible, take notes and score each eMAR system against each point throughout.

  • Do I understand the system?
  • Will my care team understand the system?
  • Will I and my care time enjoy using this eMAR system?
  • How long will I have to spend training my staff?
  • Does the company offer support/training?
  • How long will this take to implement in my business?
  • Are there any additional costs?

Make sure it aligns with NHS requirements

This one’s a biggie. Medications are vital, and reducing the risk of error is critical. You should make sure that your eMAR system has full and current integration with the NHS database - so that when you input medications, you can be sure the correct name and dosages will appear. Not all eMAR solutions have this feature, but we at Birdie believe it's a crucial element, which is why we've worked hard to integrate with the NHS dm+d (dictionary of medicines and devices).

The Standardisation Committee for Care Information (SCCI) has approved the NHS dictionary of medicines and devices (dm+d) as the NHS standard for communicating medicines information

Birdie's eMAR medication schedule
Birdie is partnered with the NHS to integrate the NHS Dictionary of medicines and devices (dm+d)

Look for top-notch support

If this is your first foray into digital, you need to make sure that the team behind the system are there for you. Caring is a round-the-clock job and medications need to be delivered before 9 am and after 5 pm. Making an error can cause severe repercussions for your clients - so if something goes wrong or you need help with an eMAR issue, you need to be sure that someone is there 24/7 to help. 

If your eMAR supplier doesn’t offer full support 24 hours a day you could be stuck waiting for help for hours, or even days if the error happens on the weekend. 

At Birdie, whether it’s a comment, query or question, if we’re in the office, we’ll get back to you within 15 minutes (usually sooner). If we’re not, we’ll do everything we can to get back to you the same day. Find out more about our support here. 

“I couldn’t wish for a better team to help us and support us through this. They’re all passionate about Birdie themselves, as am I, but they’re just brilliant. I cannot fault them at all. They are there, and they look into things immediately. Certainly, within minutes of me asking the question.”
Tracey Pearce, Harino Care

Consider your budget

We know that money is always tight, and resources are few. Before deciding on your eMAR software system, plan your budget and weigh up the impact, it’ll have on your business. Many eMAR systems promise to save time on things like auditing and people hours, so if you can assess how long you spend on these before your demo, you’ll be able to determine if the price is within your budget.

If you’re not sure, you can use our cost savings calculator, here. 

Of course, it’s specific to Birdie so not all eMAR systems will be able to save you the same amount.

Consider your staff

Implementing a new system can be a significant change for your staff - and they’re going to have to learn a whole new process. When you’re researching eMAR systems, you should try to find providers that have good reviews or testimonials from care staff specifically. If the system is complex or confusing, your team will struggle to adopt the new approach.



Make sure it has third-party access

When you consider digital vs paper eMAR systems, the first thing that many of our home care partners worry about is visibility. Often many people may need to see a MAR chart (like paramedics or visiting nurses or family members). 

It’s a valid concern, and it’s one you should take careful consideration of before selecting your new eMAR software. Suppose your new software provider doesn’t allow access, or it’s not restricted (for example, with Birdie you’ll need to generate a code, to ensure only the right people can access. In that case, then you should probably think about using a different provider.

Check TrustPilot reviews

Before you choose an eMAR solution, check what others are saying about the company. TrustPilot is a great place to start, but be sure to check their social media accounts too. It’ll give you a good idea about the way they interact with customers, which is crucial if you need support at any stage of your journey.

Now you’re clued up on the things to look for; the next step is making sure that your eMAR medication system is up to scratch. Be sure to ask these five questions to your sales rep before signing the contract on your new eMAR system. 

We hope this blog helps you narrow down the field of eMAR solutions. If you want to hear more about Birdie and how our eMAR works, you can book a demo to get a personalised walkthrough from our team, or you can find out more about Birdie’s eMAR here.

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