Frequently Asked Questions

e-Health

Drug Information System - FAQ

What does the Drug Information System do?

The Drug Information System allows authorized healthcare providers to access and manage your medication information. This information comes from community pharmacies and healthcare professionals who provide care to you. Having access to the information contained in the Drug Information System will increase the quality and safety of patient care for all Nova Scotians and others who receive care here.

What type of information is collected in the Drug Information System?

Once your pharmacy is connected to the Drug Information System, information about all the prescriptions you have filled will automatically be sent to the system. Your pharmacist and any other of your healthcare providers who have access to the Drug Information System can also add any medication-related information you share with them such as allergies, adverse reactions and medical conditions. Information about the prescriptions you are taking and other medication related information is very important to ensure healthcare providers can provide you with the best care.

The Drug Information System will contain your medication information from the day each pharmacy and authorized health care provider connects to the system. Medication information prior to connection to the Drug Information System  will not be included.

What is a medication profile?

Once your pharmacy connects to the Drug Information system, a medication profile is created for you in the system the first time you have a prescription filled. Your medication profile will contain detailed information about every prescription you have filled.

Your medication profile may also contain medication-related information you share with you pharmacist or other healthcare providers such as allergies, adverse reactions and medical conditions.

Over time and as pharmacies connect, a medication profile will be created in the Drug Information System for every person who has a prescription filled in a community pharmacy in Nova Scotia.

What is e-Prescribing?

The Drug Information System will allow prescribers in Nova Scotia – physicians, nurse pracritioners, dentists, dental hygienists, optometrists, and midwives – to type your prescription into the system creating an electronic prescription for you. This means you will no longer need a paper prescription to take to your pharmacy.

When you arrive at your pharmacy to fill the prescription, your pharmacist will see the prescription in the Drug Information System and will fill it for you.

Electronic prescriptions, or e-Prescriptions, will help to reduce errors associated with hand written prescriptions.

What is my information used for?

The information your pharmacy or other authorized healthcare provider collects is for the purpose of providing you with better care. The information is private and confidential, and will help your healthcare provider deliver better and safer care.

When is this happening?

Community pharmacies began connecting to the Drug Information System in the fall of 2013, and all pharmacies in the province are now connected. In the summer of 2015, healthcare providers in hospitals and in the community (like physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, dentists, dental hygienists, optometrists, and midwives) began using the Drug Information System. Depending on their role, they will access the system through either the Drug Information System Portal or the SHARE Clinical Portal.

In the spring of 2015, technical specifications for the Drug Information System were completed and made available to the provincially approved and Canada Health Infoway accredited Electronic Medical Record (EMR) software vendors. Software vendors will be required to make modifications to their software for physicians to access the Drug Information System through their EMR. The timing of when physicians will have access to the Drug Information System through their EMR will depend on the timing of the modifications of their EMR vendor’s software. Once their EMR is connected, physicians will be able to access your medication profile and e-Prescribe directly through their EMR.

Will all community pharmacies be required to connect to the Drug Information System?

Yes. Section 36 of the Registration, Licensing and Professional Accountability Regulations under the Pharmacy Act (August 2013) authorizes and requires pharmacists, certified dispensers and pharmacy technicians to disclose drug dispenses to the Drug Information System.

What is the Personal Health Information Act (PHIA)?

Nova Scotia’s Personal Health Information Act (PHIA) came into force on June 1, 2013.

PHIA governs the collection, use, disclosure, retention, disposal and destruction of personal health information. The Act recognizes both the right of individuals to protect their personal health information and the need of custodians to collect, use and disclose personal health information to provide, support and manage healthcare.

Personal health information in the Drug Information System is governed by PHIA.

What if I don't want my information in the Drug Information System?

In order to provide safe care for you, your pharmacy or authorized healthcare provider needs to see your medication information. An incomplete record of your medications may be dangerous, especially if you fill prescriptions at different pharmacies. As a result, pharmacies across Nova Scotia are required to send all prescriptions to the Drug Information System once they are connected.

What if I don't want my medication information to be seen?  

The Drug Information System provides a “masking” option to those who wish to restrict access to authorized healthcare providers unless  you give them consent.  While this allows you to control who views your profile, it is important you understand the risks associated with masking. If providers cannot see your complete profile you could receive duplicate medications or an adverse drug reaction could get missed. If you choose not to provide consent to unmask your profile, you need to be aware that your healthcare providers have the discretion to refuse service, or if an interaction is detected it may lead to a delay in care.

To find out more information about “masking”, contact the Department of Health and Wellness, Privacy and Access Office at 1-855-640-4765.

Who has access to my information?

Authorized healthcare providers have access to your medication information. In Nova Scotia, an authorized healthcare provider is someone who provides or supports health-care services in hospital or in the community, such as a pharmacist, physician, dentist, nurse practitioner, registered nurse, optometrist, and midwife.

Can I access my medication information?

Yes, you may request a copy of your medication information through the Department of Health and Wellness, Privacy and Access Office at: www.novascotia.ca/dhw/phia or you may call: 1-855-640-4765.

Can I see who has accessed my medication profile?

Yes, at any time you have the right to request:

  • a record of who accessed your personal health information
  • a copy of your personal health information
  • a correction to your personal health information

You may request this information through the Department of Health and Wellness, Privacy and Access Office at: http://novascotia.ca/dhw/phia or you may call: 1-855-640-4765.

What is "masking"?

A "mask" is the action of complying with your directive to limit who has access to your personal health information; a right you have under the Personal Health Information Act. The mask will cover all of your personal health information in the Drug Information System with the exception of demographic information necessary to confirm the correct patient has been selected when providing care.

How will my information be protected?

The Drug Information System is built with strong security features such as encryption and multi-layer firewalls. These features help prevent your personal health information from being inappropriately accessed or viewed. Additionally, all users are made aware of their responsibilities to protect the privacy and confidentiality of your personal health information, and all access to your profile is logged and available upon your request.

Why does my pharmacy ask me for my health card number?

Your health card number helps your pharmacy uniquely identify you so that your medication information can be added to your medication profile in the Drug Information System.

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Policies
See important Drug Information System policies.