PharmaNet for practitioners

This page is specifically for practitioners. Refer to PharmaNet for general information, including how to request a copy of a PharmaNet profile.

Health professionals must be enrolled in PRIME before they access PharmaNet.

On this page:


What is PharmaNet?

PharmaNet is the province-wide data network administered by the Ministry of Health. PharmaNet keeps a record of every prescription dispensed in a B.C. community pharmacy.

Practitioner access to PharmaNet is only for the purpose of direct patient care—providing health services to an individual in the context of a professional health practice. It is not available for academic or other secondary purposes, such as research, monitoring or quality improvement. Other processes are available to request data for secondary purposes.

More than 75 million transactions are processed each year in PharmaNet.

PharmaNet is used by individuals in community pharmacies, private community health practices, and health authority facilities such as hospitals and outpatient clinics.

PharmaNet is only available to provide health services to individuals. It is not available for any other reason, such as academic research.


Access to PharmaNet

PRIME logoEvery health professional who needs PharmaNet to deliver patient care must enrol in PRIME.

By enrolling in PRIME, you request Ministry of Health approval to access PharmaNet. Once enrolled in PRIME, a unique global PharmaNet ID (GPID) number is assigned to the user and attached action they take in PharmaNet. Unusual activity is investigated. PRIME protects patient and health professional information.

All community pharmacies in B.C. are required to connect to PharmaNet. Emergency departments and health authority facilities apply for access to PharmaNet as a clinical tool for providing patient care. Refer to Health Authority Access to PharmaNet.

Prostheses, orthoses, and ostomy providers can request access to submit claims in PharmaNet through Health Insurance BC. Medical device distributors (e.g. insulin pump providers) are encouraged to request access to PharmaNet, which simplifies the claims process for patients. Refer to Medical Device Distributors Online Claims Access to PharmaNet.

Private community health practices must register access sites in PRIME to request access to PharmaNet.


Errors in a PharmaNet profile

If you find an error in a PharmaNet patient profile, including dispenses associated with the wrong PHN, and are unable to update it, contact either the HIBC Help Desk or the PharmaNet Data Quality Services Team.


Orphan records

A claim on PharmaNet generates a record in the medication history and one in the claims history. If a network problem occurs, the system may complete half the process, creating a record in the claims history without a corresponding record in the medication history, or vice versa. These are called “orphan” records and must be corrected so that medication histories and claims histories are complete.

When an orphan record is detected, PharmaNet will send an error message to the provider. The PharmaNet Data Quality Services Team also identifies and processes orphan records. If your pharmacy is affected by an orphan record, the team will contact you directly.


Adverse reaction/clinical condition field

To inactivate specific text in the Adverse Reaction/Clinical Condition field on a PharmaNet patient profile, please complete the HLTH 5550 - Request to Inactivate Adverse Reaction/Clinical Condition on PharmaNet Profile form. Fax the completed form to the PharmaNet Data Quality Services Team.


Assigning Personal Health Numbers (PHNs)

Each PHN is a unique number used to identify anyone who interacts 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 pharmacists accidentally generate duplicates.

Duplicate, invalid and inaccurate Personal Health Numbers (PHNs) cause health-related and administrative problems. Multiple PHNs associated with one patient place patients at risk of dispensing errors and adverse drug reactions resulting from incomplete medical information.

Be sure to search thoroughly for a PHN before assigning a new one. Try reversing the patient's date and month of birth, or entering variations of their name (nicknames, initials, etc.). See search tips on Searching for Personal Health Numbers in PharmaNet (PDF, 160KB).


Prescriptions for pets

Pet prescriptions must be written by a veterinarian; pharmacies cannot accept prescriptions written by a pet owner’s doctor, or dispense prescriptions under the pharmacist’s ID. When dispensing veterinary prescriptions, a pet owner’s PHN must be used to record an animal prescription on PharmaNet, and 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 veterinarian is registered in (e.g. V9 for BC). If not, it will incorrectly appear that the medication is for the pet owner.

If correctly entered with the veterinary practiontioner ID and reference code, PharmaNet will ensure the drug does not appear on the pet owner’s PharmaNet patient profile and will not affect Drug Utilization Evaluation results for the owner.

Failing to distinguish veterinary medication on PharmaNet will produce an inaccurate patient record and result in a wrongful PharmaCare coverage.

Do not provide an emergency supply or adapt a prescription for a pet.


O-Med PHNs

All medication dispensed to practitioners (physicians, dentists, veterinarians and midwives) for their clinics for administration to patients are considered to be "office-use medications" and must be transmitted to PharmaNet. All pharmacies are assigned a unique "O-Med PHN" that must be used for the transmission of office-use medications. O-Med PHNs are not to be shared with other stores.

Call the PharmaNet Help Desk at 1-800-554-0225 if you do not know your O-Med PHN.


Stock transfers

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.


Fan-Outs

The Ministry of Health issues Fan-Out messages to pharmacies to communicate critical information about PharmaNet outages and lost or stolen prescription pads.

The following issues will not be communicated via Fan-Out, except in exceptional circumstances:

  • Prescription forgeries
  • Pharmacy robberies
  • Persons impersonating health care providers or insurers seeking personal information
  • Multi-doctoring
  • Prescribers cancelling prescriptions
  • Lost prescriptions
  • Tracking missing persons or persons of interest in criminal investigations

How to report a lost or stolen prescription or duplicate prescription pad

Prescribers can report a lost or stolen prescription pad or duplicate prescription pad to PharmaNet Support Services for communication to pharmacies via Fan-Out. A prescriber must be a registrant of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC, the College of Dental Surgeons of BC, the College of Registered Nurses of BC, or the College of Pharmacists of BC.

To report a lost or stolen prescription pad, a prescriber will:

  • Phone PharmaNet Support Services at 1-844-660-3200
  • Provide:
  • Prescriber’s name
  • Prescriber’s location
  • Prescriber’s license number
  • Folio numbers involved
  • Contact information
  • Additional information as required

The PharmaNet Support Services line is answered during standard work hours (Monday to Friday, 7:00 am to 4:00 pm); prescribers may leave a voicemail message at any time with the information outlined above. Within one business day, PharmaNet Support Services will issue a Fan-Out to pharmacies in the relevant geographic area.

Critical information about issues other than lost or stolen prescription pads may be considered for Fan-Outs by PharmaNet Support Services on a case-by-case basis.


Pharmacists: If a patient requests their PharmaNet profile

Patients can request a copy of their PharmaNet profile in several ways – through a pharmacy, the Ministry of Health, or in Health Gateway. Pharmacies can request a list of all medication entries and accesses in the past 14 months to be mailed to the client by the Ministry of Health.

What pharmacists should do if a client requests a copy of their 14-month medication history:

  1. Tell them about Health Gateway, where they can download their PharmaNet profile, going back as far as 1995. This is the quickest way.
  2. Positively identify the patient. View primary and/or secondary ID, preferably including one picture ID. People can request only their own record. 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 considered responsible enough to make this decision. If you have questions regarding a minor, contact the Ministry of Health.
  3. Confirm the patient’s address on PharmaNet. To ensure the record is mailed to the correct address, check mailing information with the patient and update PharmaNet if necessary.
  4. Process the request on your local system. Transmit the request via PharmaNet, according to your software vendor’s instructions. The Ministry of Health 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 should not be produced.

What they receive

The PharmaNet patient record will include:

  • Name, address, phone number, personal health number and gender as currently on record with the Ministry of Health
  • 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
  • All prescriptions dispensed at PharmaNet-connected pharmacies in the past 14 months. Includes 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

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 they cover. The PharmaNet record does not include the name of the pharmacy or dispensing pharmacists.

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 patient record request and done through the Ministry of Health.

Call toll-free: 1-855-952-1432
Fax: 250-953-0432


Pharmacists: If asked to apply a protective word to a patient profile

Pharmacists may also be asked by patients about applying a protective word to their PharmaNet patient profile. Be sure you know what steps to take in your local software program to help a patient if they want to add or remove this security feature to their record.


Essential forms


Essential contacts

PharmaNet Profiles Services Team

Email: PharmaNetProfiles@gov.bc.ca
Call toll-free: 1-855-952-1432
Fax: 250-953-0432

PharmaNet Data Quality Services Team

Email: PharmaNet@gov.bc.ca
Call toll-free:1-844-660-3200
Fax: 250-953-0486

PharmaNet Help Desk

Call (from the Lower Mainland): 604-682-7120
Call (from the rest of B.C.): 1-800-554-0225
Fax: 250-405-3587