The increasingly complex, inter-related and computerized medical system in Canada has made the accurate and reliable identification of physicians more difficult than ever. Many medical health organizations have attempted to resolve this by issuing their own identifiers for physicians; the result has been a proliferation of identifiers, none of which is linkable with other appropriate organizations.
To address these challenges, all of the medical licensing authorities in Canada, including the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia, endorsed the development of an identification system to provide physicians with a unique, lifetime, nationally recognized standard identifier called MINC (Medical Identification Number for Canada).
For physicians, the major benefit is the ease and certainty of identification when applying for registration in a new jurisdiction, applying for privileges, or dealing with any organization that maintains a listing or database of physicians, and is a licensed user of MINC. Organizations that rely on MINC include the Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA), Doctors of BC and health authorities. The MINC is also used to ensure that test results are provided to the right physician.
There is no cost to physicians or the College to obtain a MINC. No application form needs to be completed; however, in accordance with a privacy impact assessment conducted by MINC, the College must obtain physicians’ signed consent for release of personal information. With this authorization, the College will submit the necessary registration information to MINC#NIMC, which is the not-for-profit corporation operating the MINC system. (NIMC is the equivalent French acronym for MINC.) The MINC system is governed by strict confidentiality provisions, and adheres to the Canadian Standards Association Model Code for the Protection of Personal Information.
- a unique lifetime identifier assigned to every individual who enters the Canadian medical educational or practice system;
- recognized by medical organizations nation-wide;
- a simple serial number with no encoded information, e.g. CAMD-9999-9999 (i.e. it will not be possible to determine a physician’s personal information from the MINC). It is simply an identification number;
- issued by a central hub computer, at the request of one of the Canadian medical regulatory authorities or Medical Council of Canada;
- held as confidential personal information by licensed users;
- not replacing a physician’s licensed registration number, LMCC number, provincial billing number (if any), nor any other identification number that the physician currently has;
- not conveying any status, rights, or privileges; and
- not changing the way in which any information concerning physicians is released.
For the purposes of generating a MINC, physicians must complete and submit to the College the Medical Identifier Number for Canada (MINC) Consent Form.