PRIME FAQs

PRIME (PharmaNet Revisions for Information Management Enhancements) is an enrollment and user management system for PharmaNet. The Ministry of Health launched the PRIME development project to

  • manage increased demand for access to PharmaNet;
  • enhance individual accountability for PharmaNet access;
  • improve PharmaNet safeguards to protect the health information of British Columbians; and
  • meet new legislative and government standards for privacy, information security, and identity assurance.

PRIME will affect all health professionals who use PharmaNet for patient care. This includes nurses, physicians, pharmacists and the organizations they work for: Health Authorities, pharmacies, clinics and community practices. Users who access PharmaNet on behalf of regulated users (e.g. Medical Office Assistants) will also be affected.

PRIME will change the PharmaNet enrollment and access renewal processes by introducing a new web-based enrolment and user management system. In addition, the PRIME project aims to educate users about information security and appropriate access responsibilities.

Background

PRIME is a web-based user management and enrolment system, meaning access to PharmaNet can be applied for from anywhere.

The main objective of PRIME is to create a single solution for PharmaNet access. This will position the Ministry of Health as the sole body approving and managing a user's access. Currently, PharmaNet access is inconsistently administered by different parties across the health sector, making the Ministry reliant on third parties for information about who is accessing this government system.

PRIME is an enrolment and user management system. It is not a software offering for accessing PharmaNet. PRIME will not replace current point-of-service PharmaNet access software.

PharmaNet is a critical part of British Columbia's health care system and the demand for access to PharmaNet is constantly increasing. PRIME is necessary to

  • ensure consistent, efficient access provisioning to PharmaNet across all clinical users;
  • improve security, transparency, and individual user accountability;
  • facilitate access monitoring and audit capabilities;
  • align PharmaNet user management and information privacy and security with government standards;
  • aid in prevention of unnecessary or inappropriate PharmaNet use; and
  • meet the requirements of the Information Management Regulation, enacted in 2015 under the Pharmaceutical Services Act. It states that the Ministry of Health solely
    • determines the criteria for access to PharmaNet;
    • approves and grants access to PharmaNet; and
    • monitors and audits PharmaNet access. The Ministry of Health may restrict, suspend, or terminate PharmaNet access.

PRIME will

  • transition PharmaNet access to a web-based, mostly automated system, allowing for streamlined access request processing;
  • increase the security and privacy of personal information in PharmaNet. This will prevent inappropriate PharmaNet access and security breaches that put patient and practitioner information at risk;
  • align PharmaNet access with current legislation, government standards and strategic directions;
  • create individual accountability for PharmaNet access and use;
  • provide consistent reporting of the access provisioning for all PharmaNet users and administrators across the province; and
  • clearly define criteria for PharmaNet access.

PRIME development is guided by the following principles:

PRIME will

Protect Patient Care

  • Improve patient care delivery by supporting PharmaNet access for more users in patient care settings
  • Safeguard appropriate use of PharmaNet related to patient care

Improve Privacy and Security

  • Allow for ongoing monitoring and audit. Processes integral to information security and personal accountability in PharmaNet
  • Achieve a high level of confidence in the identity of PharmaNet users
  • Address recommendations from recent PharmaNet security reviews
  • Increase business intelligence and reduce reliance on external data

Foster Sector Partnership

  • Provide an automated, streamlined enrolment process
  • Deliver a solution based on consultation with health sector stakeholders
  • Contribute to and promote Sector Identity and Access Management (IDAM) solutions

Align with Legislation

  • Strengthen Ministry accountability for granting access and use of information
  • Adhere to information management regulations and core policy, including:
    • establishing a direct relationship between the PharmaNet user and the Ministry;
    • ensuring individuals are accountable for their access and use of PharmaNet; and
    • ensuring the Ministry of Health validates user information, determines if the user should have PharmaNet access, and what kind of access they should have.

PharmaNet is a health information system that supports clinical care. It is also the business and payment operating system of PharmaCare. This introduces different requirements for information management.

Different legislation prescribes different criteria for access and use of specific health information. For example:

Information Systems and Governing Legislation
Information System Governing Legislation
PharmaNet
PLIS, EMPI, and Provider Registry
EMR in private practices and pharmacies
EMR information in health authority facilities
MSP

On December 1, 2020, all new applicants for PharmaNet access must enrol using PRIME. If a user had PharmaNet access prior to December 1, 2020, they will have that access grandfathered allowing them to continue using PharmaNet.

By April 1, 2022, PharmaNet users with grandfathered access will be required to enrol using PRIME. This will be done gradually and the Ministry will provide ample notice of when enrolment must be completed.

 

PharmaNet Users

A Regulated User is a member of a profession regulated under the Health Professions Act and listed in the Information Management Regulation. Currently, this includes pharmacists, medical practitioners, and nurse practitioners.

On-Behalf-of Users access PharmaNet on behalf of a Regulated User. Their role is to support the Regulated User's provision of direct patient care.On-behalf-of users may include medical office assistants (MOAs), medical or nursing students, etc.

A Device Provider provides medical equipment covered under the PharmaCare Prosthetics and Orthotics program. A Device Provider is enrolled in the device provider class, and associated sub-class, under the Pharmaceutical Services Act, Provider Regulation.

Device Providers can access PharmaNet, although connection is not mandatory. Their access is available to submit online claims. Device Providers do not have access to a patient's full drug profile. 

On-Behalf-of Users need their own access to PharmaNet and must register and enroll in PRIME.

Transactions submitted by On-Behalf-of Users will be transmitted with the Practitioner ID of the Regulated User they are acting on behalf of. These transactions will also be connected to their own unique ID. This way the activity of both users can be tracked for accurate monitoring and auditing. Regulated and On-Behalf-of Users will each be responsible for their PharmaNet access and activity and for acknowledging their terms of use.

Midwives, dentists, pharmacy technicians, nurses, etc. must access PharmaNet as On-Behalf-of Users. Members of these groups must register and enroll in PRIME.

Currently, only physicians, nurse practitioners and pharmacists are named in the Information Regulation as being able to access PharmaNet as a Regulated User. Expanding the scope of Regulated Users is a long-term strategy of the Ministry of Health. PRIME provides the administrative capacity necessary to manage this expansion.

All staff, permanent or temporary, need their own PharmaNet access and must register and enroll in PRIME. This includes locums, agency nurses, and other individuals who often change location.

The organization responsible for the site should confirm the necessity of PharmaNet access for all users, regardless of who is employing them or for how long they are working there.

 

Process

PRIME moves the user application process for PharmaNet access online. It involves creating a PRIME account and entering information that will allow the Ministry to validate your identity, determine your user class, and identify access restrictions. This includes

  • profile information (your name and preferred name);
  • contact information (email and phone number);
  • professional information (college certifications and professional roles); and
  • self declaration (e.g., Have you ever been the subject of an order or a conviction for an information contravention?).

PRIME will use this information to assign a user class and present the applicant with a User Access Agreement. Once the User Access Agreement has been agreed to by the applicant, the local account administrator will be notified of the applicant’s PRIME ID and PharmaNet access may be provided for that user.

Alternatively, PRIME may flag the applicant for manual review by the Ministry. This could happen if the professional license number provided does not match the one provided by the college etc. PharmaNet users who have a history of information management or billing infractions may require manual review. This does not mean that the Ministry will necessarily deny access, only that the Ministry must review the information provided and make a decision based on additional information.

The Ministry will conduct a review and contact the applicant if information needs to be corrected and resubmitted. If the applicant is approved after manual review, they will be presented with a User Access Agreement and PharmaNet access can be provided once it is agreed to.

If an applicant is denied access to PharmaNet, or if limits and conditions are applied to their access, they will be notified by the Ministry. They will be given an opportunity to respond in writing, after which the Ministry may uphold or change its decision. A user must not access PharmaNet if their access is not approved by the Ministry.

In most cases, an applicant will be able to get access to PharmaNet through PRIME within 24 hours. Enrolment may take longer if a manual review is required, if the applicant does not agree to the User Access Agreement immediately, or if the local account administrator delays PharmaNet access.

In emergency situations, the Ministry will have an exception process available through a help desk to provide immediate PharmaNet access.

Access to PharmaNet is granted indefinitely, assuming circumstances do not change; however, the Ministry will require each user to renew their PRIME account annually. This will be a simple process using the PRIME web application, and users will receive multiple notices before their renewal date.

If a user fails to renew their enrolment, their access to PharmaNet will be deactivated and then terminated after additional notifications.

For users who are on a temporary assignment, access to PharmaNet will be granted for a defined period. Once the end date comes up, the local account administrator will be requested to remove PharmaNet access for the user at the site(s) where they no longer need PharmaNet access.

If a user’s circumstances change so that they are no longer delivering direct patient care requiring access to individuals’ PharmaNet records, their access to PharmaNet will end.

In all clinical or pharmacy settings, access to PharmaNet is through third-party software that meets the Ministry’s requirements for PharmaNet access. Users must have accounts on that software, and typically, a local account administrator is responsible for providing user access to PharmaNet. After the PRIME registration and enrolment process is complete, the user agreement has been agreed to, and the local account administrator has received the user’s PRIME ID,  that administrator can activate the user’s PharmaNet access. These administrators are required to complete quick, simple training on how to use PRIME and what their responsibilities are in providing PharmaNet access.

The local account administrators who are responsible for activating end users’ PharmaNet access must be registered and enrolled in PRIME themselves. They can be your software provider’s customer service department, a pharmacy manager, a centralized IT team, or anyone else in your organization capable of fulfilling the role. A person or group can provision for more than one site with a single PRIME account.

The Ministry will work with each organization to help identify appropriate people and positions to fill this role.

 

Other

Being enrolled through PRIME will not change current permissions in PharmaNet, for the majority of PharmaNet users, but there may be exceptional cases. You will be informed of your PharmaNet access privileges in PRIME.

PRIME is being designed with an intent to minimize the impact of new requirements. However, the content of the contract between a site and their software provider is not disclosed to the Ministry. Therefore, the Ministry cannot say whether or not the contract will be affected.