There is a rule that 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 (for example for emergency, or pharmacist disciplinary or audit purposes) should be viewed. 
PharmaNet is divided into two main parts. The Drug Information System contains patient medication and clinical information, and is accessible to the pharmacy and to the College of Pharmacists. The PharmaCare Centralized Information System contains billing information and is accessible to the pharmacy and to PharmaCare. Pharmacists are allowed to access and transmit your personal health information on the PharmaNet system only if they need to do so to dispense medication to you, to counsel you about your medication, to evaluate your medication and ensure your safety, or for billing purposes.  

Your record on PharmaNet is accessible to:

  1. all pharmacists in the province;
  2. staff at pharmacies who work with the pharmacists and have signed confidentiality agreements;
  3. hospital emergency departments, which can view and update your medication history;
  4. doctors in private practice, clinics and hospitals, who can request medication records of their patients;
  5. the College of Pharmacists, which has responsibility for managing the part of PharmaNet that holds medication histories;
  6. the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC, which has access in order to monitor the prescribing patterns of doctors;
  7. the Ministry of Health and Health Insurance BC, which have access to payment information but not to medication histories. 

Researchers who have submitted a detailed request to the PharmaNet Stewardship Committee are allowed to get data for research purposes, but individual names and addresses and other information that could allow individuals or doctors to be identified are not included. *

A number of privacy polices 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.

What about Researchers?

The PharmaNet Committee uses specific measures to ensure that the information that is released to researchers for approved research is “de-identified” – that is, any information that could identify the individual is removed. It does this by limiting the type of information that is released. The following information is not released: names, addresses and health numbers; full birthdates or death dates (year and month only is released); and whole postal codes. 

They also release information in categories (i.e., by age group instead of specifying age), and exclude statistically unusual individuals – “outliers.”   Personal health numbers, physician identifying numbers and pharmacy identifying numbers are removed and replaced with numbers specific to the study.  

* Section 16 of the Pharmacy Operations and Drug Scheduling Act (BC)