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July 2020 Monthly Newsletter

Executive Director Report - Shawna Webster

Dear NAPHSIS Members,

As the House advances its next FY2021 appropriations package, a combination of 7 bills that will come to the Floor later this week, I wanted to flag an amendment that was submitted to the Labor-HHS-Education section of the bill. Rep. Taylor (R-TX) and Shalala (D-FL) have submitted an amendment that deals with vital statistics and death reporting. Please see the summary below. The House Rules committee meets today to begin determining which of the submitted amendments will be considered during debate on the House floor. We’ll continue to follow the process and let you know if the amendment will be made in order for debate.


Taylor (TX), Shalala (FL) - Bi-Partisan

Requires the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to enter into an agreement with the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine to commission a report on the differences between state, local, and federal vital statistics and death reporting standards; to provide recommendations on how to harmonize these standards; and provide information on the feasibility of establishing and implementing national standards for vital statistics and death reporting.


Meanwhile, we’ve also been monitoring movement on a number of health data-related bills that will, hopefully, support further support to CDC for the COVID-19 response and general preparedness and data modernization. As the August recess approaches in a less than normal election year, the mood on the hill is a bit frantic and desperate – and some of the legislative action reflects that. NAPHSIS and our colleagues at APHL and CSTE are doing our best to support CDC and the states by ensuring that the funding in these additional supplementals STAY within the public health structure, and not siphoned off to research and private companies. See our July 22nd letter. We have also been vocal in our opposition to the recent order for all Hospitals to send data to the White House and will submit a letter to Sec. Azar this week. We have an upcoming call with HHS to discuss the myriad of challenges and pitfalls likely in this course of action.


The good news is that the House Appropriations Committee released the FY21 Labor HHS Education report includes $450 million in foundational funding for the Data Modernization Initiative. Report language is summarized below and the full report is available here.


  • Initial funding of $500 million for the Data Modernization Initiative was provided by the CARES Act. The Committee recommends those dollars be spent as follows: [editorial note, this adds up to more than $500 million, so the Committee is likely considering other funding sources here]

  • Health Statistics: $174.397 million

  • Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Informatics: $363.1 million

  • Public Health Workforce: $56 million

  • For FY21 the Committee included $50 million to continue the modernization effort.

  • In the Emergency Funding title, the Committee provided $400 million to support the DMI. The report states that this emergency funding completes the foundational investment for this critical infrastructure.


I sincerely hope everyone is finding some equilibrium out there. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with questions or concerns of any nature. We’re here to help! Take care, all.  Message from the President - Molly Crawford

At the start of March 2020, the Minnesota Office of Vital Records, had just implemented an “all hands on deck” order to redirect staff to fulfilling requests. Our wait time for a routine, “no problem” birth certificate was 75 days over the ideal of accreditation maximum turn-around time of five days. Amendments were taking a month and a half with no relief in sight as we eyed the state rush for REAL ID compliant driver’s licenses and Identification Cards. While we had plans and projects to help reposition us, they weren’t moving fast enough. More than once I found myself wishing for the world to stop and let us catch up. And then, just like that, it happened. The world stopped. COVID-19 came uninvited to our lives and our work. It made us afraid. It made us sick. It made us stay home. It made us shutter our doors. For those of us lucky and prepared, it made us dust off our continuity of operations plan. And,

None of us planned for the pandemic. None of us wanted to be challenged in the ways we have been and continue to be challenged. None of us wanted this, not now. Not ever. But, it made us challenge ourselves to rethink our core functions, responsibilities, and operations. Because of COVID-19 we are approaching our work in new ways. For many of us, we are examining customer service and support with fresh eyes. Thinking about how we serve the public and our partners was long overdue.

In planning for our 2019 annual meeting, in Columbus, Ohio, the committee reserved a session for customer service. Initially, what was thought to be an easy win, took effort to uncover jurisdictional improvements or innovations that helped people get the documents and services they were eligible to get and needed to navigate their lives. What a difference a year can make. In the last 30 days, NAPHSIS has brought us two engaging webinars filled with new customer focused projects.

If there is a silver lining to this awful virus, it is our commitment to continuous improvement and quality service. Kelly Baker, the Oklahoma State Registrar, gave credit to COVID-19 for her new business model to transform traditional lobby services to online ordering and will call pick up. In the July VSCP Call, she labeled lobbies as an expensive habit that require variable land unpredictable workforce loads and that often leave customers empty handled anyway. Alex Quintana, Colorado State Registrar, shared his office’s experience with establishing a surprisingly low cost online appointment system to better handle customer requests for modifications. Colorado ramped up their system for online appointments in fewer than 60 days so that they were ready when the Governor opened their state. Alex said customers set appointments as soon as the web tool went live and even before the option was announced. It helps organize scarce resources and manage more predictable schedules. In the July Innovations webinar, Jeff Duncan, Michigan State Registrar, shared his project to stand up a Chat Bot to supplement his call centers—one dedicated to eligibility questions and the other to making changes on records—that take more than 8,000 calls each month. Soon the Michigan chat box will simulate human responses to frequently asked questions anytime day or night. I also hear that one of the great consequences of the COVID-19 response, is the use of electronic death registration systems. Many jurisdictions that previously struggled to get physicians to provide cause of death and certify records online, now scramble to keep up with the demand to sign up doctors to use their systems.

Minnesota too is changing the way we approach work. Our online request and e-payment interface project is on schedule and we’re integrating electronic signatures on customer forms, allowing use of technology for virtual “in-person” requests, and examining our fulfillment operations so that with the gift of extension for REAL ID, we prevent another backlog. I’m glad that some of the craziness and shock at the beginning of the pandemic has subsided. We all know that we’re in this for the long haul and we’re adapting. It makes me proud to see how we are transforming operations and moving forward our work in new and wonderful ways. We’ve managed to get caught up. And, among the many lessons I’ve learned during this unusual time, is be careful what you wish for. 

Upcoming Webinars and Events


August 3-5

Vital Records and Their Administration: Statistics and Data Quality Training

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Wednesday, August 5 @ 2pm ET 

NAPHSIS Virtual Poster Session


Click here to register.

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Tuesday, August 11 @ 2pm ET 

NAPHSIS Business Meeting


Click here to register.

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Wednesday, August 12 @ 2pm ET 

VSCP Project Directors Call

Click here to register.

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Tuesday, August 25 @ 3pm ET

Field Services Special Interest Group

Email us to join.

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Thursday, August 27 @ 3pm ET

Systems Special Interest Group

Email us to join.

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*New Date*

Tuesday, September 1 @ 2pm ET 

EVVE and EVVE Fact-Of-Death Webinar

Click here to register.

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Tuesday, September 1 @ 3pm ET 

Presentation Skills Training

Click here to register.

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Tuesday, September 8 @ 3pm ET 

Digital Communication Training

Click here to register.

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Nov 30 – Dec 2

NAPHSIS Identity & Security Conference

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For any questions about NAPHSIS Events, please email Katey Frederking.


National Advocacy

National Violent Death Registration System (NVDRS) Infographic

Our NAPHSIS Summer Series recently covered data visualization innovations, but infographics are also great way to communicate data effectively and quickly! NVDRS has a great example of an infographic that is on their public facing website. Click here to view.

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South Carolina Job Opportunity

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control currently has a Vital Records Director/Assistant State Registrar job opening.

The person in this role will serve as the agency's point of contact for matters related to Vital Records and Biostatistics, and will:

  • Provide leadership, direction and supervision to the staff with emphasis on customer service.

  • Interpret and update policies, procedures and regulations related to office activities.

  • Chair the DHEC Institional Review Board (IRB) and supervise the DHEC IRB Administrator. Assists with the selection of DHEC IRB members.

  • Oversee review of research requests for vital events.

  • Represent agency on local, regional and national boards/committees.

  • Structure and manage Vital Statistics in a manner that facilitates the effective and optimal use of resources (financial and human) and supports the Vital Records offices in the region.

  • Participate in visits to all DHEC regions on annual basis.

  • Act as custodian of the original records.

  • Provide supervision and guidance to Division Directors; conducts ongoing and scheduled meetings to promote communication and collaboration.

  • Serve as project officer on grants and other projects as required.

  • Participate in agency's data oversight committee.

  • Provide overall direction and consultation in complex statistical research projects and activities requiring sophisticated biostatistical and epidemiological techniques.

  • Develop and disseminate annual program reports.

The ideal candidate will have either a bachelor's degree with 7 years of relevant program experience or a master's degree with 5 years of relevant program experience.

If you are interested in applying for this position, please click here.

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New Mexico Job Opportunity

The New Mexico Department of Health currently has a Vital Records Bureau Chief job opening.

This person in this role will manage and lead the Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics (BVRHS). This position will provide leadership and management oversight of all bureau programs. The Bureau chief will assure ongoing public health surveillance and dissemination of birth and death data, regular oversight of budget, contracts, RFPs, and grants for the bureau. This position will provide supervision and workforce development for bureau staff and ensure that COVID-19 deaths are accurately reported; ensure residents continue to have access to the main BVRHS office to obtain birth and death certificates, while protecting both employees and residents. The ideal candidate will have an MPH along with 5 years of experience leading a vital records unit, including the supervision and management of at least 25 staff members.


If you are interested in applying for this position, please visit http://careers.share.state.nm.us and complete an online application. 


This link will take you to the State of New Mexico job search where you may view all jobs available. In the search box, enter the job ID: 11222


Agency Contact Information: Heidi Krapfl (505) 476-3577 Heidi.Krapfl@state.nm.us

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EVVE & STEVE User Groups

Sign up to participate in our new monthly EVVE User Group. This monthly hour meeting provides jurisdictional service and support with any EVVE or EVVE FOD issues, questions or concerns. We also have our STEVE user group meeting monthly for STEVE support, discussion and learning. Contact us at HQ@naphsis.org to sign up for one or both groups today.

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