How Pharmacy Integration to Facility EHR/EMARs Benefit Pharmacies, Facilities, and Patients

Nicole Warehime - September 2, 2021

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Electronic health records (EHRs) and electronic medication administration records (EMARs) are mainstay technologies in healthcare today. Recognizing that better communication leads to fewer errors, long-term care (LTC) pharmacies and their facility customers seek to seamlessly share as much information as possible.

That’s where EHR/EMAR interface integration comes in and why it is so beneficial for pharmacies, facilities, and patients alike.

LTC pharmacies integrate pharmacy management systems (PMS) like FrameworkLTC with EHRs and EMARs to help them enhance communication, work more efficiently, reduce unnecessary errors, and ensure LTC patients take medications as prescribed. 

Here’s all you need to know about integrating your facility customers’ EHR and EMAR solutions with FrameworkLTC.

Learn the key differences between retail and LTC pharmacy software, the signs  that it is time to upgrade, and what to look for in an LTC pharmacy software  solution when you download this guide. →

How EHRs and EMARs Are Used in Long-Term Care Facilities

EHRs and EMARs are often spoken of interchangeably, but there are actually slight differences between the two technologies: EHRs document the patient’s entire medical record and all of their clinical encounters, whereas EMARs track each patient’s prescriptions to ensure they are properly administered, improving both drug safety and medication adherence in the process. LTC pharmacies may work with multiple facilities, all with different EHR/EMAR solutions. 

In most cases, LTC facilities choose their own EHR and EMAR systems, and many today have one solution that serves as both an EHR and an EMAR. Some still rely on separate technologies and/or a homegrown EHR/EMAR solution developed internally. A small number of LTC facilities continue using paper-based MARs to track patient medication administration; however, this approach is highly inefficient with a much greater likelihood of human errors and

Regardless of their setup, use of electronic solutions usually requires LTC pharmacies to integrate pharmacy management systems like FrameworkLTC with specific EHRs/EMARs. Integrating allows pharmacies to operate efficiently and effectively while also minimizing errors, reducing regulatory compliance complexities, and maintaining real-time access to full medical and drug administration records for each LTC patient.

Interface with FrameworkLTC: Integrating EHRs and EMARs

EHR/EMAR systems can integrate seamlessly with FrameworkLTC and the full Framework integrated solution set through various interfaces, including:

  • FrameworkERX: FrameworkERX is an add-on product to FrameworkLTC that uses National Council for Prescription Drug Programs (NCPDP) SCRIPT, a messaging standard primarily for sending point-to-point messages between prescribers, facilities, vendors, and pharmacies.

  • Surescripts: Surescripts is a third-party provider employing the SCRIPT standard that physicians can use to send prescriptions.

  • FrameworkHL7: FrameworkHL7 is another messaging standard for patient transactions to let pharmacies know about new patient allergies, patients moving rooms in LTC facilities, refill requests, and so on.

It is important to note that LTC pharmacies can’t integrate their EHR/EMAR without one of these three solutions. Pharmacies who have FrameworkLTC but no system integration use paper MARs and phone calls to communicate with their facilities, with no outside connection, which is a very crude and often error-prone process—which is exactly why integrating technologies is so important.

Wondering how interfacing with FrameworkLTC works? Here’s how our EHR/EMAR integration process typically unfolds:

Step 1: Interface

During the interfacing stage, the LTC pharmacy’s EHR/EMAR vendor works with the SoftWriters support team to get started. Most pharmacies manage their own integration because support from the SoftWriters team makes integrating easy.

After LTC facility onboarding, the EHR/EMAR vendor and pharmacy connect, share credentials, set up the interface, and test the process to minimize errors once the integration goes live. This process can take anywhere from 1-2 days to 1-2 months, depending on the unique circumstances.

We work alongside each of our pharmacy partners throughout this time to provide support and assistance during the integration, offering access to comprehensive user guides as well as additional assistance on as-needed basis. SoftWriters’ software interfaces are complete with an extensive list of data that FrameworkLTC can send and receive, offering a better user experience and maximizing your offering.

FrameworkLTC has numerous integrations already in place and can integrate with any custom-built interfaces. PointClickCare is one of the most popular and established interfaces, which can make connecting much easier. That said, we can also integrate with homegrown solutions by entering a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) with the vendor partner and then sharing the relevant specs and coding for the existing interface setup.

This process is very easy for the LTC pharmacy because both the vendor and the SoftWriters team work together to tackle the heavy lifting. In fact, for most LTC pharmacies, once the first facility is under their belt, the process is smooth sailing and generally much faster. Once they have the add-on messaging standards set up, LTC pharmacies can essentially interface with whomever they want—without adding to the overall cost.

Learn the key differences between retail and LTC pharmacy software, the signs  that it is time to upgrade, and what to look for in an LTC pharmacy software  solution when you download this guide. →

Step 2: Certify

During the EHR/EMAR interface process, we also offer standard interface testing services at no charge for products integrating with FrameworkLTC via FrameworkHL7 or FrameworkERX. This is only the case for new EHR/EMAR partners.

The testing gives customers confidence in interfaced products, as well as the messaging passed between solutions—from pharmacies to facilities, and vice versa in the case of bidirectional integrations. SoftWriters provides a testing packet for EHR vendors, which includes exam details and sample messages to be sent for verification.

Step 3: Maintain

In most cases, interfacing is very much a “set it and forget it” process rather than an ongoing one, but support is available when needed to maintain integrations. That said, SoftWriters' Vendor Support Services are available to all vendors interested in integrating their interface to FrameworkLTC. For example, more hands-on assistance is available in case any issues come up, such as problems interfacing or errors during testing.

As you can see, there are numerous integration benefits to EHRs’/EMARs’ interfaces with FrameworkLTC. The process typically goes very smoothly, and whether you currently interface or are interested in building an interface with FrameworkLTC, we can help.

Curious about EHR/EMAR interfaces and how to connect your PMS with value-add solutions? Get in touch with our integrations team to kick-start the interfacing process.

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