2.4 Connecting to PharmaNet

[Note: How practitioners get access to PharmaNet has changed as of December 1, 2020. If you need new access to PharmaNet—for the first time ever, or new access after a period without—you need to enrol in PRIME first. This section of the policy manual will soon be updated. For now, please see:

General Policy Description

All community pharmacies must connect to PharmaNet even if they are not enrolled as PharmaCare providers.

Hospital outpatient pharmacies that wish to submit claims to PharmaCare must connect to PharmaNet.

Device providers have the option of connecting to PharmaNet. Connecting to PharmaNet can simplify device provider claims procedures and improve customer service.

Eligible practitioners within medical practices and facilities such as emergency departments, hospitals and designated mental health facilities may also connect to PharmaNet to obtain dispensing information for their patients. These practitioners do not submit claims to PharmaCare, and cannot view claims information. 

​Policy Details

All requests for access to PharmaNet must be approved by the Ministry and, for pharmacies and most device providers, the College of Pharmacists of BC (CPBC).

All persons who access PharmaNet must have signed the appropriate agreements and/or undertakings of confidentiality and security before they connect to PharmaNet.

PharmaNet access cannot be granted to sites located outside B.C. 

Any online PharmaNet transaction must be processed by the B.C. site (that is, it cannot be processed remotely from another location). 

Any personal information obtained from PharmaNet must remain in B.C.

>> For more information on privacy requirements for PharmaNet connections, refer to Section 9 - Privacy.

Policy Details for Pharmacies

All enquiries regarding PharmaNet connection for a new community pharmacy must be directed to the CPBC. This includes new pharmacies that will be part of a gateway system for which PharmaCare does not need to install or connect equipment.

After a pharmacy has made their request through the CPBC, Information Support at HIBC can answer any further questions.

>> Contact HIBC Information Support.

Before a pharmacy can connect to PharmaNet, the CPBC must

  • Receive and approve all documentation related to the application for a new pharmacy (including a signed Acknowledgement of Completion of the Confidentiality Procedures, a copy of which will be forwarded to PharmaCare), and
  • Receive payment of the license fee.

>> See the full list of required documents in the CPBC’s Pharmacy Licensure in British Columbia - Information Guide and Resources (PDF, 6.5MB).

The CPBC notifies PharmaCare of its preliminary approval of each new pharmacy’s licence application. Information Support at HIBC can then initiate the PharmaNet connection process.

Pharmacies must use approved, compliance-tested software to connect to PharmaNet.

Conformance evaluations are performed by HIBC and the staff of Data Access, Research and Stewardship (Health Sector IM/IT Division, Ministry of Health) plus a member of a regulatory body where appropriate. The evaluation considers all aspects of PharmaNet functionality available on the local software, whether or not all functions are/will be used by the pharmacy to confirm that

  • The local software complies with requirements
  • Local system functions and processes provide accurate results
  • Pharmacies must have selected an approved software vendor before they submit their request for connection; the vendor’s name must be provided as part of the application.

>> See the list of approved software vendors on the Community Health Practice Access to PharmaNet webpage.

Before PharmaNet connection can proceed, Information Support at Health Insurance BC must receive a copy of the pharmacy-signed confidentiality document (Acknowledgement of Completion of the Confidentiality Procedures) from the CPBC. A signed confidentiality document cannot be accepted directly from the pharmacy.

Enrolment as a PharmaCare provider is required for billing to PharmaCare.

Depending on the capabilities of their chosen software, pharmacies may connect to PharmaNet either

  • over the province-wide SPAN/BC network, or
  • over a secure Internet connection (the POS software provides the security using HN Secure). Connection is provided by the Internet Service Provider (ISP) of the pharmacy’s choice.

For pharmacies connecting to PharmaNet over the SpanBC network

The time frame to install equipment and connect a new pharmacy to PharmaNet using the SpanBC network is at least 50 business days from the time the CPBC notifies PharmaCare of its approval.

If the pharmacy wishes the connection to be completed in less time, it must submit a letter to Information Support at HIBC.

PharmaCare/Information Support will endeavour to meet the requested time frame, but the relevant telecommunications company (which installs the circuit, modem and router) may not approve the requested schedule.

SpanBC connection requirements:

  • Upon approval of all documentation and payment of license fees, the CPBC will notify PharmaCare. The Ministry is responsible for—and, through HIBC, will coordinate the installation of—telecommunication lines, modem and router to the demarcation point within the pharmacy or building. 
  • It is the pharmacy’s responsibility to ensure that all internal wiring, conduits and power are in place to allow connection to the demarcation point. Depending on the distance from the demarcation point to the pharmacy, different cabling options should be discussed with the telecommunications supplier. 
  • Direct any questions about the specific requirements for installing telecommunications lines, router and modem to Information Support at HIBC.

For pharmacies connecting to PharmaNet over the internet

To connect to PharmaNet via the Internet, pharmacies must use compliance-tested software that includes HN Secure. 

Pharmacies are responsible for obtaining Internet connection services from an ISP and having their local system software vendor install and test the software before they access PharmaNet.

Connection and activation time frames

Your system vendor can provide an estimate of the time it will take them to set up and test your local system’s connection.

Upon approval of all documentation and payment of license fees, the CPBC will notify PharmaCare. PharmaCare will register the pharmacy in the PharmaNet security system, ready for activation. This process may take up to 10 business days.

Connection to PharmaNet will be activated once the CPBC notifies Information Support at HIBC that the Acknowledgement of Completion of the Confidentiality Procedures form has been submitted.

Connection to PharmaNet will be activated once the CPBC notifies Information Support at HIBC that the Acknowledgement of Completion of the Confidentiality Procedures form has been submitted.

 

Policy Details for Others

PharmaNet allows device providers who have enrolled with PharmaCare to submit online claims but does not allow them to access a patient’s full medication history.

The benefits of connecting to PharmaNet include

  • claims on PharmaNet adjudicate in real time, providing immediate information on the portion of a claim to be paid by the patient and the portion (if any) covered by PharmaCare; 
  • not having to submit manual claim forms; and 
  • eliminating the two- to three-week turnaround time required for processing manual claims and issuing payment for them. 

Connection requirements and time frames

Device providers must have enrolled with PharmaCare before they can request access to PharmaNet and submit claims. For enrolment details, see “PharmaCare Provider Enrolment” on the Information for Device Providers webpage.

For general information on the connection requirements and time frames, please refer to the process for pharmacies above. For more detailed information, see the PharmaCare Prosthetic and Orthotic Policy Manual (PDF, 850 KB).

To request access to PharmaNet, contact Information Support at HIBC.

Insulin pump manufacturers/distributors (formerly “Medical Device Distributors”) may sell their products either directly to the patient or to an authorized vendor such as a pharmacy or medical supply store.

To participate in PharmaCare, insulin pump manufacturers/distributors must enroll with PharmaCare and may be granted limited access to PharmaNet.

>> Learn more about registering for access to PharmaNet on the Medical Device Distributors (MDD) Online Claims Access to PharmaNet webpage.

Out-of-Province (OOP) sites are not connected to PharmaNet. 

However, PharmaCare may allow OOP sites to participate in PharmaCare. These sites are closer than the nearest provider located in B.C., serving B.C. residents in border communities. 

OOP sites must submit manual claims to PharmaCare in the same way as in province device providers that are not connected to PharmaNet.

>> See Section 4.1 - Claims by Offline and Out-of-Province Suppliers in the PharmaCare Policy Manual and Section 7.10 of the Prosthetic and Orthotic Policy Manual (PDF, 850 KB).

Community Health Practice Access to PharmaNet allows authorized health care professionals to request and receive up-to-date records of medications dispensed to a patient, in a timely and secure manner, at each registered community health practice site in B.C.

Access to PharmaNet aims to enhance patient care by providing community health practice staff with complete, accurate and comprehensive patient and drug information. 

This service is available for health practitioners in community health practices and supervised persons acting on their behalf.

Practitioners may register to access PharmaNet from one or more sites at which they practice. They may access PharmaNet only from within the sites for which they have registered.

Practitioners who wish to access PharmaNet from health authority facilities, see  PRIME and Health Authority Facility Access to PharmaNet

>> Learn more about Community Health Practice Access to PharmaNet

This service permits authorized individuals in hospital emergency departments, and diagnostic and treatment centres, to access patient medication profiles to assist in determination of patient therapy, in a timely and secure manner.

>> Learn more about Health Authority Facility Access to PharmaNet

Hospital Access to PharmaNet (HAP) allows authorized physicians and pharmacists to request and receive up-to-date records of medications dispensed to a patient, in a timely and secure manner, at each registered hospital or designated mental health facility (DMHF).  

This service is available for physicians and pharmacists in a hospital or DMHF and authorized persons acting on the physician's behalf.

>> Learn more about Health Authority Facility Access to PharmaNet

The Ministry allows access to PharmaNet over a secure wireless Local Area Network only when all required standards have been met. Sites that use wireless networks may have to sign Attestations of Compliance before implementing the network. 

Use of the wireless network must comply with the restrictions set forth in “PharmaNet Access Restrictions” in Section 9.3 - Access to Patient Information

>> Learn more about Requirements for Wireless Access to PharmaNet