- Access to PharmaNet Using High-Speed Connections
- Access to PharmaNet Using Wireless Connections
- Antivirus Software Strongly Recommended for Pharmacies
- Assigning PHNs to Patients
- Authorization for Release of PharmaNet Patient Record
- Compliance Standards Documentation for PharmaNet
- Confidentiality Forms
- eHealth Initiative
- Identifying Patients for PharmaNet Purposes
- Obtaining a PharmaNet Patient Record
- Patient Keyword
- PharmaCare Policy Manual
- PharmaCare Website
- PharmaNet Access Audits
- PharmaNet Bulletin/PharmaCare Newsletter Subscription Service Sign-Up
- PharmaNet Bulletins and PharmaCare Newsletters
- PharmaNet for Pets
- PharmaNet Software Vendors
- PHN Quick Reference Card
- Request to Inactivate Adverse Reaction/Clinical Condition on PharmaNet
- Stock Transfers
- NEWS RELEASE: BC Upgrades PharmaNet to Advance Electronic Health Care
Pharmacies may now connect to PharmaNet using ADSL or other forms of high-speed Internet access. However, this requires the implementation of HNSecure as a security protocol in the local pharmacy system and pharmacies must apply to PharmaCare for this connection.
HNSecure is the Ministry of Health's (MoH's) free software that opens the way for pharmacies to securely exchange data across the Internet. It ensures that only licensed pharmacies can send and receive messages and that any message sent would be fully encrypted and tamper-proof. This protocol meets all security, privacy, and confidentiality requirements for transmission of health data across the Internet.
Using HNSecure, the pharmacy can continue to use the MoH provided modem and router connection via SpanBC, or a pharmacy may choose to connect to PharmaNet via a connection provided by an Internet Service Provider (ISP). Until the pharmacy software is approved for HNSecure, connection to PharmaNet must be made via the SpanBC telecommunications lines.
For more information on high-speed connection and to confirm which vendors have HNSecure-approved software, contact PharmaCare Information Support by email at: Informationsupport@hibc.gov.bc.ca.
Pharmacies that choose to implement a wireless connection to PharmaNet must satisfy the following requirements:
- The secure wireless Local Area Network and equipment must comply with the wireless standards specified by the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) of BC. These standards are set forth in Sections 5.9 to 5.11 of the Information Management/Information Technology Standards Manual available at www.cio.gov.bc.ca/local/cio/standards/documents/standards/standards_manual.pdf. These standards apply to all pharmacies, regardless of size.
- All new and current employees must be provided with information about the pharmacy’s wireless policy and procedures as they relate to access to PharmaNet.
- All security incidents must be reported to the pharmacy’s authorized signatory (the person who signed the pharmacy’s PharmaCare Enrolment Agreement and Attestation of Wireless Compliance) and remediated in accordance with the OCIO’s standards.
- Submit a signed Attestation of Compliance to Health Insurance British Columbia. Attestation Agreements are available through the Health Data Access Services website at www.health.gov.bc.ca/access/wireless.html.
Pharmacies may implement wireless access to PharmaNet once they receive confirmation from the Ministry of Health Services that their Attestation has been received and processed.
Several incidents of virus infections in pharmacy computer systems have occurred in recent years. The result of these infections has included local computer system outages which can lead to the loss of local business functions as well as loss of the ability to transmit prescriptions electronically to PharmaNet and Third Party Adjudicators.
All pharmacies in British Columbia, through the connection to PharmaNet, have access to the Internet and therefore are at risk of virus infection. In addition, diskettes or CD ROMs can contain viruses. Antivirus software with up-to-date virus definitions is the easiest way to reduce or eliminate this risk.
Good Antivirus software includes "real-time scanning" for viruses so that files read by the computer, including those read from diskettes, CD ROMs, hard drives, network resources and the Internet, are automatically scanned for viruses without the need for user intervention. In addition, some Antivirus software can be configured to scan incoming and outgoing email messages.
It is strongly recommended that all pharmacies install up-to-date Antivirus software on their local computer systems. Commercial versions of Antivirus software typically receive updated virus definition files weekly. Pharmacy managers should discuss Antivirus software solutions with their computer support organization or software support organization (SSO).
Although about four million people live in B.C., more than six million personal health numbers (PHN) currently exist in the B.C. health system. Duplicate, invalid and inaccurate PHNs cause all kinds of health-related and administrative problems. Multiple PHNs place patients at risk of dispensing errors and adverse drug reactions resulting from incomplete medical information.
Each PHN is a unique number used to identify anyone who accesses the B.C. health system. Many legitimate PHNs relate to out-of-province visitors and deceased patients. However, many more PHNs are created daily when busy pharmacists accidentally generate duplicates.
The College is working with the Ministry of Health Services and PharmaNet to weed out inaccurate PHNs. Flipping a patient's day and month of birth, and variations in name spelling, are the most common glitches. The system is also clogged by PHNs inappropriately issued for family pets, or to identify doctor's offices, clinics and hospitals.
A link to a PDF of the PHN Quick Reference Card appears in the index at the top of this page. Please make sure all pharmacists and pharmacy technicians can easily access this PHN Reference Card at their workstations.
You may also receive a list of inappropriate PHNs issued by your pharmacy. Please review this information and make sure all pharmacists and support staff understand the process for assigning a PHN. The College will continue to monitor invalid and duplicate PHNs and inform pharmacies as needed.
Find out more in the Pharmacy Practices section of the PharmaCare/PharmaNet Policies and Procedures Manual on the PharmaCare website: www.health.gov.bc.ca/pharme/generalinfo/policy/pharmacypractices.pdf
PHN Do's and Don't's
Do check ID and confirm birth date and name spelling before requesting a PHN through PharmaNet
Do contact the PharmaNet Help Desk and ask them to correct the PHN if you realize you've added a PHN with the wrong name or birth date
Don't issue a new PHN to correct an error made in an existing PHN
Do review the PHN Quick Reference Card for tips on searching for PHNs
Do make sure all pharmacists and pharmacy techs can easily access a PHN Quick Reference Card at their workstations
Don't issue PHNs for offices, clinics, pharmacies, family pets, or other animals
Do contact the PharmaNet Help Desk for assistance if you cannot find the patient’s PHN on a PharmaNet search and it is likely they have had a PHN in BC before
Do you know what to do if an individual enters your pharmacy and asks for a copy of their PharmaNet patient record? As with any type of counseling, a few questions can clarify the request and provide you with an action plan.
Ask if they want a copy of their current record, which is a list of PharmaNet transactions (all medication entries and access occurrences) for the past 14 months. If this is what the person is looking for, they have come to the right place: requests for current PharmaNet patient records can be made at any pharmacy in British Columbia.
If the individual is looking for a record earlier than the past 14 months, they need to contact CPBC, because this is a request for archived information. This article describes archival requests later on; for now, let’s go over the process for accommodating current patient record requests.
Three easy steps
- Positively identify the patient
- View primary and/or secondary ID according to college guidelines, preferably including one picture ID.
- As the PharmaNet patient record is private and confidential, family members must produce ID and can request only their own record. If the request is on behalf of a child, use your professional judgment and privacy legislation guidelines to decide if a parent can request on a child’s behalf. A child considered old enough to make a health care decision is also considered responsible enough to make this decision.
- Confirm the patient’s address on PharmaNet
- To ensure the patient record is mailed to the correct address, check mailing information with the patient and update the PharmaNet database if necessary
- Process the request on your local system
- Select the function on your local system and transmit the request via PharmaNet, according to your software vendor’s instructions. The college will receive the request, print the record, and mail it directly to the patient, free of charge.
- The PharmaNet patient record cannot legally be printed at the pharmacy; a screenshot of the patient’s PharmaNet record is not acceptable and should not be produced.
What they receive
The PharmaNet patient record will include:
- Current demographic information: name, address, phone number, personal health number and gender on record with the Ministry of Health.
- Clinical information: current and chronic medical conditions and the person who reported the information (patient, pharmacist, or prescriber).
- Adverse drug reaction information: allergies and medication side effects and the person who reported the information.
- Medication history: all prescriptions dispensed at PharmaNet-connected pharmacies in the past 14 months. Includes the prescription number, date dispensed, drug identification number, brand name, strength and dosage form of the drug, quantity dispensed and prescriber.
- Medication record access: each access made to the clinical information, adverse drug reaction information, or the medication history by pharmacists, emergency department physicians, GPs, the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia or the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia is recorded.
What they won’t receive
The PharmaNet patient record does not include details about the costs of any dispensed medications. This information can be requested from the pharmacy that dispensed the medication or from PharmaCare for medications it covers.
Archived patient records
If an individual is seeking their PharmaNet patient record for a period earlier than the past 14 months, this is an archived records request. This is done through the College of Pharmacists of B.C. at 604-733-2440 or 1-800-491-6333.
Patient record key word
Pharmacists may also be asked by patients about applying a key word to their PharmaNet patient record. Be sure you know what steps to take in your local software program to help a patient if they which to add this security feature to their record. See “Identifying Patients for PharmaNet Purposes” at the top of this page.
Once a year every pharmacy in British Columbia receives a PharmaNet access audit. The audit lists every non-dispensing PharmaNet access during a randomly selected two-week period.
B.C.'s Information and Privacy Commissioner strongly supports this process. It helps the College assure the public that pharmacists look at PharmaNet records only for appropriate reasons.
Here's how an audit works. The College sends the pharmacy a printout listing pharmacy name and code, date of access, patient's name and PHN, pharmacist's name and ID. The audit comes with a cover letter, asking for a reply within a month. Many pharmacies return the audit within a week, and the college appreciates these prompt replies.
Pharmacy managers can simplify the audit process by establishing a system that allows pharmacists to record non-dispensing access. The access audit helps the college verify that pharmacists keep appropriate records. There are many valid reasons for accessing PharmaNet. The audit is not meant to discourage appropriate patient record checks.
If you have questions about a PharmaNet access audit, please contact the college by email or call 604-733-2440 or 800-663-1940.
Pet prescriptions must be written by a veterinarian: pharmacies cannot accept prescriptions written by a pet owner’s doctor, or fill prescriptions under the pharmacist’s ID.
Because a pet owner’s PHN must be used to record an animal prescription on PharmaNet, the veterinarian’s licence number must also be used as the practitioner ID, along with the appropriate practitioner reference ID code for the province the vet is registered in (e.g., V9 for B.C.). If another practitioner type is entered (e.g., physician or pharmacist) an error will occur and the medication will record on the owner’s PharmaNet medication profile instead of on the veterinary profile. This could compromise patient care – it will appear that the patient is on medications that actually belong to the pet.
Depending on your pharmacy’s local software, you can use the owner’s PHN to set up a separate animal patient record on your local pharmacy network, and/or make a note on the script entry that the drug is for a pet. Do not create new PHNs for pets: the owner’s PHN must always be used. If you require more information, contact your software vendor.
Sale of drugs to other pharmacies, including emergency supplies of narcotics and controlled drugs, as well as drugs returned to wholesalers, must not be transmitted to Pharmanet. Do not use your “O-med PHN” or assign a new PHN through PharmaNet for this purpose. In these cases, the medication should be treated as "stock transfers" and recorded on the local system only. Medication transferred to a long-term care facility or to a group home as contingency medication or ward stock must also not be transmitted to PharmaNet. Once an order is received for a specific patient, that prescription must then be transmitted to PharmaNet using the patient's Personal Health Number (PHN).
Pharmacists unsure of how to use the local stock transfer functionality or the O-med procedure should contact their pharmacy software vendor.