Project — Modernizing Death Reporting

tracking deaths

View web page  | Download and print the PDF pdf icon[PDF – 126 KB]

Death certificates were one of the first sources of public health surveillance data, and they remain an important tool for surveillance today. When viewed collectively, data from death certificates can help uncover health disparities, inform policy and funding decisions, and improve outbreak and disaster response efforts. They can also help us expose and address a crisis facing our nation today—the epidemic of drug-overdose deaths.

Modernizing and transforming surveillance systems related to mortality so that they deliver faster, better, and more timely data is a fundamental way to improve health surveillance. Learn more about the progress already being made to enhance these important surveillance tools. Ongoing projects include efforts focused on both data dissemination and on modernizing the systems, standards, and procedures related to the collection and processing of the data.  These projects will continue to improve the timeliness and quality of the mortality data for research and public health surveillance.

Learn more about the progress already being made to enhance this foundational public health surveillance program.

Conversations on Public Health Surveillance

Paula Braun, MSA

Modernizing mortality data requires speed and connectivity which will allow for quicker, more accurate identification of trends.

Keywords: Vital Statistics, death certificates, death registration

Related Links

For mortality, there are three broad categories of data currently disseminated by NCHS: Provisional, Final (Annual), and National Death Index (NDI).

Provisional data is the timeliest and is based on a current flow of new and updated records received from state and may underestimate the final count.  Data visualization is used for some of these activities. Provisional counts and estimates are released through NCHS Vital Statistics Rapid Release Program, which currently includes:

Final (Annual) data is released after NCHS has received all updates from the states and has fully reviewed the data for completeness and quality. Final data are available as:

National Death Index (NDI) data includes direct personally identifiable information (e.g. Name and Social Security Number) that is not available in Provisional and Final data files.  The NDI allows researchers to link mortality data to other data sets.

Vital Statistics Data Dashboards and Releases


Fact Sheet:


Supporting Materials: