Academic Researchers Access to Data

Population Data BC guides academic researchers through the process of accessing data, including how to complete the required privacy and ethics related documents.

The Ministry of Health grants access to Ministry data to academic researchers on a case-by-case basis. Decisions regarding data access are guided by the Ministry’s policy on Access to Health Data for Research (PDF, 501KB), which has the objective of facilitating research that can be used to improve health care and health services while appropriately protecting privacy.

Performance Indicator Target (days) Average (days)
Q3 of 2020
Average (days)
Q4 of 2020
Average (days)
All 2020
Average (days)
Q1 of 2021
New Application Approval 30 15 10 29 6
Amendment Approval 10 26 4 13 7
Time to Access Data for new applications (measured from date approved) N/A 229 42 192 219

Note: Figures include all applications where the event in question (e.g. approval or data access) was completed within the reporting period. Approval figures are measured from the date the application was sufficiently complete for adjudication and include COVID-19 related requests subject to rapid processing.

Population Data BC provides support for academic researchers requesting access to ministry data including PharmaNet or a health information bank. The Research Data Access Framework presents principles and responsibilities in the data access request process.

Researchers need to familiarize themselves with all documentation and details of the process before submitting applications for data.

BC Data Scout™

For researchers who are planning a study using Ministry of Health administrative data, BC Data Scout™ provides information about available health data. It generates summary reports through an online tool.

The information provided is complete enough to determine whether or not the research study is feasible, but not detailed enough to answer research questions. It is stripped of personal details and does not replace the need for a full Data Access Request.

BC Data Scout™ was developed by the Ministry of Health, in partnership with Population Data BC and the BC SUPPORT Unit. More information on the BC SUPPORT Unit, and the services they provide, can be found at

New Data Requests and Amendments

Population Data BC assists academic researchers with completing the application for health data access and submits the application package to the Ministry of Health on the researcher's behalf. Learn more about the application process and get your application started.

PharmaNet Data Requests

PharmaNet is the province wide network that links all B.C. pharmacies to a central set of data systems. Every prescription dispensed in B.C. is entered into PharmaNet. Academic researchers may request access to PharmaNet data for a variety of research purposes. Learn more about the application process.

Requests to Contact B.C. Residents

The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act allows academic researchers to request and obtain information necessary to contact individuals for the purpose of recruiting for a research study. If you would like to contact B.C. residents as part of your research study, learn more about the process and how you can apply for permission.

Status of Existing Requests

The status of academic requests for Ministry of Health administrative data can be obtained from Population Data BC through their AppTracker application. For the status of all other projects, please email the Ministry of Health at