Health Care Provider Access to Drug and Pharmacy Service Information
Questions and Answers
What information is the ministry making available to providers?
To assist with providing health care, the ministry is providing health care providers (“providers”) with information relating to the publicly funded drugs, monitored drugs (narcotics and controlled substances) and/or pharmacy services that have been dispensed or provided to an individual.
This information may help providers to more quickly identify and prevent harmful drug reactions and provide more informed care.
Providers who are delivering health care services to an individual are able to access information about:
- publicly funded drugs dispensed in Ontario and paid for by the Ontario Drug Benefit (ODB) program and any other public drug programs (e.g. Special Drugs Program), including monitored drugs covered by these programs,
- drugs dispensed in Ontario to households pending eligibility with the Trillium Drug Program, and
- monitored drugs dispensed in Ontario paid for by private insurance or cash.
In addition, providers are able to access information about pharmacy services that have been delivered to an individual, including:
- MedsCheck Program medication reviews
- Pharmacist administration of vaccines
- ColonCancerCheck Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) kits for colorectal cancer screening
- Pharmacy Smoking Cessation Program services
- Naloxone kits provided for harm reduction through the Ontario Naloxone Program for Pharmacies
- Medications provided for Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID)
What are the details of the drug information that providers can access?
- Providers are able to view the name, dosage form, strength, dispense date and quantity of the drugs which have been dispensed to a patient.
- In addition, the prescriber and pharmacy information is displayed.
Can individuals request a copy of the information from their health care provider?
Every individual has a right to access records of his or her personal health information, with certain limited exceptions. The right to access one’s health records is set out in Part V of the Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004, S.O. 2004, c.3 Sched. A. (PHIPA).
If a provider has copied the information into that individual’s clinical record held by the provider, the provider may grant access to that clinical record in accordance with PHIPA and the provider’s access policies and procedures.
Otherwise, individuals may request access to their information held by the ministry by contacting ServiceOntario INFOline at 1-800-291-1405 (TTY 1-800-387-5559).
How accurate is the information that is being made accessible?
The information that is being made accessible has been provided to the ministry by pharmacies, and may not necessarily include all of the current medications that a patient may be utilizing at any time, or all the pharmacy services that a patient has received. At this time, some drug products paid for directly by patients or by private insurance, over-the-counter medications, or herbal products are not part of the information being made accessible to providers.
The inclusion of information about a particular drug indicates that a record of dispensing was submitted to the ministry by a pharmacy but does not necessarily confirm that the patient picked up the drug from the dispensing pharmacy, or that the patient is taking the drug as prescribed.
The information being made available to providers is advisory only and is not intended to replace sound clinical judgment in the delivery of health care services.
What if a patient has stopped taking a drug – will this be reflected in the information accessed by providers?
The information being made accessible to providers includes records of publicly funded drugs, as well as monitored drugs (narcotics and controlled substances) dispensed by pharmacists in Ontario. Health care providers will be able to view the name, dosage form, strength, dispense date, and quantity of these drugs which have been dispensed to a patient.
The information may not reflect changes in the patient’s prescription (e.g., changes to dosage instructions) or the patient's compliance with drug treatment as prescribed.
What should a provider do if his or her patient believes that the information being made accessible to providers is inaccurate or incomplete?
Providers should direct the individual to contact ServiceOntario INFOline at 1-800-291-1405 (TTY 1-800-387-5559).
What should the provider do if she or he has questions related to the information?
Providers are encouraged to contact the dispensing pharmacy or prescriber for any clarification regarding drugs or pharmacy services included in the information.
For all other inquiries, providers can contact:
Can the information be updated by a health care provider?
No. Providers can only view and print an individual’s information; they cannot update or modify it.
What should the provider do if the information associated with an individual’s health number (e.g., name, address, date of birth, etc.) is incorrect or needs to be updated?
Providers should direct the individual to the local ServiceOntario office. For more information or to find out the location of the nearest ServiceOntario office, individuals can call ServiceOntario INFOline at 1-800-291-1405 (TTY 1-800-387-5559).
Privacy and Security Questions
What about the confidentiality and security of personal health information?
Every individual’s personal health information continues to be confidential and protected under the Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004, S.O. 2004, c.3 Sched. A (PHIPA).
Providers are required by law to protect the privacy of personal health information.
Under what authority is the ministry allowing providers to access individuals’ information?
Allowing providers to access information about publicly funded drugs, monitored drugs or pharmacy services is authorized under PHIPA and the Narcotics Safety and Awareness Act, 2010 (NSAA).
Does the ministry require an individuals’ permission to allow providers to access their information?
Under Ontario’s health privacy legislation, PHIPA, the ministry may rely on the implied consent of individuals to allow providers to access their patients’ personal health information for the purpose of providing health care or assisting in the provision of health care. To do this, the ministry must inform individuals of:
- the purpose for which the Ministry is providing providers with access to their information, and
- their right to block access to information by notifying the ministry.
Unless an individual notifies the ministry in writing about his or her decision to block access, the ministry may allow a provider who is providing or assisting in the provision of health care to an individual to access that individual’s information on the basis of implied consent.
What are the provider’s responsibilities if the individual’s information is lost?
Pursuant to Section 12 of PHIPA, all health information custodians are required to take reasonable steps to ensure that personal health information in the custodian’s custody or control is protected against theft, loss, and unauthorized use or disclosure and to ensure that the information is protected against unauthorized copying, modification or disposal.
If a provider has printed or copied the information that is being made accessible by the ministry, then they are the health information custodian for that information. In the event that a loss, theft, or unauthorized disclosure of an individual’s personal health information occurs, the health information custodian that has custody or control of that information is required to notify that individual at the first reasonable opportunity.
Can individuals find out who accessed their information?
Yes. The ministry retains a record of authorized providers who have accessed an individual’s information. Individuals can request a list of the providers that have accessed their information by contacting ServiceOntario INFOline at 1-800-291-1405 (TTY 1-800-387-5559).
What if an individual does not want providers to have access to his/her information?
Those individuals who do not want health care providers to access their information for health care purposes may block access. This can be done by submitting a “Blocking Access to Your Drug and Pharmacy Service Information” form to the ministry.
Individuals are encouraged to consult with a provider about the benefits of allowing providers to access their information and the potential health risks of blocking access.
Importantly, even if an individual has blocked access, providers cannot be prevented from accessing information about monitored drugs in two particular circumstances:
- If the provider has actually prescribed or dispensed a monitored drug to an individual, or
- If the provider is deciding whether to prescribe or dispense a monitored drug to an individual.
For more information, please see “Public Notice Regarding the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care’s (‘ministry’) Collection, Use and Disclosure of Information under the Narcotics Safety and Awareness Act, 2010”.
Where can my patients get a “Blocking Access to Your Drug and Pharmacy Service Information” form?
Forms are available by calling ServiceOntario INFOline toll-free at 1-800-291-1405 (TTY 1-800-387-5559) or by downloading from ontario.ca/mydruginfo.
What if my patient blocks access and then changes his/her mind?
The individual will need to submit an “Unblocking Access to Your Drug and Pharmacy Service Information” Form to the ministry. Forms are available by calling ServiceOntario INFOline toll-free at 1-800-291-1405 (TTY 1-800-387-5559) or by downloading from ontario.ca/mydruginfo.
The individual (or their substitute decision-maker) may also be able to temporarily unblock access while seeking care from a provider.
Temporarily Unblocking Access
Can individuals allow access to a health care provider on a one-time (temporary) basis at the time of receiving care?
Individuals (or their substitute decision-makers) can temporarily allow access to a provider where and when they are seeking care. In order to unblock access on a temporary basis, the ministry requires that providers obtain the individual’s or substitute decision-maker’s permission in writing.
How can an individual who does not have the capacity to consent to the disclosure of his or her information allow temporary access?
Where an individual does not have the capacity to consent to allow temporary access, his or her substitute decision-maker can provide written permission on his/her behalf. Providers do not have the authority to unblock access without this permission.