National Vital Statistics System

Modernizing the National Vital Statistics System

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Our vision is to transform the nation’s vital statistics network to support near real-time public health surveillance

Why Modernization Matters

We are working to reinvent the National Vital Statistics System to make vital information more available for action.

When we have accurate data fast enough, we can recognize and track developing health threats – from preterm births to deaths from flu and drug overdoses.

Results of our progress
Weekly Pneumonia and Influenza Mortality Surveillance Reports

Monthly Provisional Drug Overdose Death Counts

Quarterly Provisional Estimates on Births and Deaths

Annual final data released in less than a year
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By applying technological solutions that are modern, connected, and capable,
we are making notable improvements to the timeliness and quality of national data.

Improvements in Timeliness

Provisional, rapid estimates on select birth indicators, infant mortality, and causes of death are available through our Vital Statistics Rapid Release program

Final death data released in less than a year – down from a previous average of two years

Provisional birth estimates produced in 5 months, with final data released in 9 months

Improvements in Quality

More specific-drug information related to overdose deaths collected from written text on the death certificate (literal text)

Electronic, front-end validation systems send alerts when a piece of information is incorrect or unusual

Underperforming items dropped from the national birth and fetal death files

Standardized trainings for reporting birth and fetal death information, and standard resources in multiple formats

Modernizing Death Data

Projects to modernize death data are underway across our nation. The National Center for Health Statistics has set ambitious goals for the timeliness and quality of death data:

  • Receive at least 80% of mortality records within 10 days of the event
  • Receive records on at least 90% of drug-overdose deaths within 90 days of the date of the event
  • Improve the quality of information by using nationally approved standards to exchange all vital data electronically
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In 2010, the National Center for Health Statistics was receiving only 7% of mortality records within 10 days of the event.

By 2018, that number had risen to almost 60%.

Projects and Partnerships

We are working closely with partners to put electronic death registration systems (EDRS) in place in all 57 vital statistics jurisdictions.

We are also working together to apply modern technologies like open APIs and Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR)external icon to speed the flow of data and better connect the broad network of systems we rely on from the local to the national level.

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As of 2019, 46 states, New York City, and the District of Columbia have launched an EDRS.

Current Projects to Modernize Vital Statistics Data
  • Improving the timeliness and quality of drug overdose death data and the interoperability of state electronic death registration systems (EDRS)
  • Helping jurisdictions without an EDRS in place achieve successful implementation of an EDRS
  • Helping jurisdictions with an existing EDRS identify and overcome barriers to use by all data providers
  • Applying technical standards (like FHIR and APIs) to make existing EDRS more interoperable with NCHS, medical examiners/coroners offices, and state public health surveillance systems
  • Aligning with CDC-wide initiatives to transform how we use data and information technology to move health information faster than ever before
Page last reviewed: July 2, 2020