PharmaNet is a province-wide computerized system that records your prescriptions. Specifically, PharmaNet holds the records of all prescriptions dispensed from community pharmacies in BC as well as prescriptions dispensed from hospital outpatient pharmacies for patient use at home.
Hospital emergency departments, mental health facilities, the nurses at HealthLink BC, and even some doctor’s medical practices can access PharmaNet to see what drugs their patient is taking and to record medications provided to a patient.
In addition, you may call PharmaNet directly at 1-855-952-1432 or the PharmaNet Help Desk at 604-682-7120 (Lower Mainland) or 1-800-554-0225 (rest of BC).
PharmaNet is an open system which means that the individuals who have been given the technical ability to log onto the system can see any information that is on the system unless it is specifically “locked”.
Only those pharmacists who need to see your file in order to give you pharmacy services should look at it. In other cases, only the information that is necessary for the particular purpose should be viewed (for example in an emergency, or when your own doctor provides you with health care and treatment, or for pharmacist disciplinary or audit purposes). Health practitioners that have access to your PharmaNet may only access it for the purpose of direct patient care or with consent from the patient (by an authorization for example). PharmaNet cannot be used for academic or other secondary purposes.
A number of privacy policies and procedures are required to protect the confidentiality of PharmaNet information. For example, security measures in PharmaNet include the use of firewalls and encryption, and everyone who has access to PharmaNet must sign confidentiality agreements. Also, PharmaNet keeps a log of every time a record is looked at.
However, because the system is open, at least parts of your record on PharmaNet can be viewed by:
Please visit the following page for more information on who gets access to PharmaNet and what the rules are for access.
Please visit the following page for more information about PharmaNet from the BC Civil Liberties Association.
Your pharmacist cannot give you direct access to your PharmaNet record. In order to check your PharmaNet, you have to make a request to your pharmacist who will then forward the request to the College of Pharmacists of BC. Thereafter, the College of Pharmacists of BC will mail your PharmaNet record directly to you.
You will need to show government-issued identification to your pharmacist to request your PharmaNet record. Please verify with your pharmacist that your current address is in the system so the record is mailed to the correct address.
Your PharmaNet patient record will include the following but is not exhaustive to:
Please visit the following page for the College of Pharmacists of BC’s contact information for additional information.
You can place a keyword on your PharmaNet record to block anyone from accessing it without said keyword. It is needed every time anyone needs to view your PharmaNet record. Some examples that will require the keyword include each time your prescriptions are filled, any time you want information about your prescriptions, or anytime your doctor needs to see your PharmaNet record.
To place a keyword on your PharmaNet record, please communicate this request with your pharmacist. If your pharmacist has not worked with you for more than two years, then they will need identification. If you forget the keyword, you may instruct the PharmaNet Help Desk to delete the keyword or reset it.
Please visit the following page for the College of Pharmacists of BC’s detailed instructions on how to put a keyword on your file.
The BC government collects personal health information in order to administer the Medical Services Plan (“MSP”). The MSP provides people in BC with basic health care insurance coverage which includes visits to doctors, hospitals, and lab tests. Information is kept about everyone who has an MSP number (Care Card number).
Please visit the following page for general information about the MSP and the Ministry of Health Medical Services plan database.
Please visit the following page for more information about accessing, limiting, or correcting your MSP account.
Health registries are computerized systems where data, records, and laboratory samples are kept. The purpose of health registries is to use the personal health information to deliver care and treatment.
Information in health registries can also be made available for research purposes. Different rules regarding anonymity of the information depend on the registry. All registry privacy concerns are usually covered by the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (“FIPPA”) but may possibly concern other laws as well. Please visit the following page for more information about relevant privacy laws.
Some examples of registries in British Columbia include:
The Ministry of Health and health authorities have several databases and health information registries. For example, information is available to researchers through Population Data BC, which is a BC agency that assists researchers in getting research information in a way that protects individual privacy.
Hospitals and health authorities maintain clinical information systems which contain detailed patient information. Some examples include:
The privacy officers of your local health authority may be able to answer your questions about the systems in use in your local health authority. Please visit the following page for a list of privacy officers of the health authorities in BC.
These pages were last updated and reviewed in August of 2022.
The information on these pages only contains general information and guidance; none of the information constitutes legal advice. If you have a specific issue that you believe is a legal problem, the best practice is to consult a lawyer.
The information is non-partisan, dynamic and ever changing. It is the result of FIPA’s research and public education programs.
If you note something that needs to be added, corrected, or removed, please contact us by email: fipa AT fipa.bc.ca.