Monthly Newsletter September 2019
Message from the President - Molly Crawford
In a short while, many of us will gather at the NAPHSIS second annual Identity and Security Conference in Washington, DC. NAPHSIS staff and the planning committee are putting the finishing touches on a compelling and engaging agenda. This event is like no other, as it allows vital record professionals to focus and immerse themselves in the legal, civil registration, and increasingly important individual identity side of our work, while connecting with colleagues and corporate partners. It allows us time to think about operations, security, fraud prevention, risk management, technology, and the non-public health consumers of our data and documents. It gives us permission to consider how the purpose of vital records and the use of our documents have changed over time.
Although I know that the event focuses on identity in more functional and transactional ways, I can’t help but think about the important role that vital records play in establishing identities. Vital records are about people and we are responsible for collecting data about people. We have influence and control over this data. How we do our work not only impacts vital events, it provides proof of one’s existence. We gather information and issue certificates, while we also hold secrets, suppress and sometimes seemingly rewrite history, and conceal changes.
Vital records have long acknowledged and accommodated adoptions. We “seal” original records when we replace information after an adoption. Most vital record professionals accept that it is our job to make sure that birth records are accurate and that legal, adoptive parents are reflected on their child’s birth record. Model Law devotes a whole section to adoption. Why then do jurisdictions vary so much when it comes to parentage; whether established voluntarily or by court order? There is disagreement among jurisdictions on the role of vital record agencies and the responsibility to document these legal parents. Why do we treat these situations and records differently? When it comes to assisted reproduction therapy and surrogacy, the variance is even greater.
Easy access to DNA testing, the internet, and social media are real factors in identity with access to information and the ability to share and exchange information. Advances in science and social change impact our work. Perhaps it is time to rethink our role and to build systems that can collect data about the woman who gives birth, as well as, the individuals who may donate and contribute to the conception, and those whose connection isn’t biological, but legal or both. It seems that all of these elements are important. Health, as well as demographic information, is important to the social determinants of health and life expectancy. All of these factors contribute to an identity; to a person.
Vital record agencies are best equipped and positioned to be the recorders of information and the keepers of the complete record. Maybe it is our responsibility to assure that these components of one’s identity are collected together and kept safe and secure to make them available to those who need the information; now, and in the future. If it isn’t the job of vital records, whose job is it? Certainly, it is something to think about and if you’re attending the Identity and Security Conference, something to talk about. Be a part of this important conversation! See you there!
Executive Director Report - Shawna Webster
One of the focus areas of the new NAPHSIS Strategic Plan is Professional Development. Every membership association seeks to educate its members and help equip them with the tools, resources and training needed to address what lies ahead in any industry. Having worked with several other membership associations that offered CEUs or other training certifications, it always seemed a natural area for growth potential at NAPHSIS. While traditionally our Annual Meeting has been an important source of education for our members, the truth is, attending that conference isn’t always a possibility for the folks on your staff who might really benefit from a specialized training. The board and our staff recognized this gap in the Association’s benefits and are now in a period of experimentation to see what works best for the membership as a whole; not just our registrars, but all areas of the vital records agency; not just our voting members, but our entire community.
The upcoming Systems & Interoperability Workshops are an example of this experimental phase. Though time may have run out for you to encourage your employees and colleagues in the State Health Department to register for the first workshop in October, there might be a few people in your work community who may benefit from these workshops. We hope you’ll take a moment to forward the link and encourage people to attend the upcoming session in Baltimore or the session in Phoenix later this year.
Our staff have put together a short, but fantastic program that will include speakers from our current partner communities and hopefully some speakers you have never heard from before, including the Association for Public Health Laboratories who will speak about the future of the AIMS platform on which STEVE resides; the CARIN Alliance, a coalition of healthcare and health data organizations interested in the application of our systems to some of today’s pressing healthcare issues; representatives from NIH discussing the needs and perspective of the research community; and many more.
NAPHSIS and its members are now uniquely positioned to explore the application of new technology, new models for federated systems, and new standards to employ to help streamline their own work AND meet the needs of data users. Now is the time to learn about these exciting developments happening around us and how they might be applied to vital records and health statistics. The Systems & Interoperability Workshops will be the place to hear about these innovations, learn about the use cases, and help create the solutions that will benefit the entire vital records system; not to mention public health, healthcare and identity management. This is the time to get your staff, and others, involved, engaged, trained and perhaps most importantly: motivated!
We hope to see you there!
A big thank you to our corporate partners below for partnering with us and sponsoring the breaks and name badge lanyards during the Workshop in Baltimore October 8-9!
October VSCP Webinar - October 9
NAPHSIS invites you to the October VSCP Project Directors Webinar
Date and Time: Wednesday, October 9, 2019 @ 2:00 pm, Eastern Daylight Time
October VSCP Project Directors Webinar Agenda:
NCHS Task Order for Mortality Residence Data – 2018, 2019
Speaker: Loraine Escobedo (NCHS)
Establishing Identity for Homeless Individuals
Speakers: Kelly Baker (OK) and David Tyner (OR)
STEVE User Group for Sharing Best Practices
Please join the STEVE User Group to learn from other jurisdictions and STEVE support staff. We will share best practices, review existing resources and create new ones as needed, as well as address emerging issues and concerns, and provide peer-to-peer support in real time through a regular phone call and a dedicated Microsoft Office O365 Group. Learn from others about full automation with the ThinClient installs and data sharing with external data partners. Ask other STEVE users questions via the group email. Make connections with other STEVE users with similar use cases and needs.
Our regularly scheduled calls take place the third Thursday of each month at 2pm ET, with the next call being held October 17 at 2pm ET.
Contact Caprice Edwards to join the group.
How 20 Projects are Putting Local Data to Work for Healthier Communities
The Urban Institute announced the selection of 10 projects for Visualizing and Powering Healthy Lives that will leverage local life expectancy data to advance health equity and close health gaps.
These innovative projects use two different census-tract level data sets on life expectancy and chronic disease measures to explore local health disparities and ensure that everyone, no matter where they live, has a fair and just opportunity to live a long and healthy life.
The Visualizing and Powering Healthy Lives projects represent 22 organizations from 9 states that will look at how affordable housing, educational opportunity, and other factors affect local life expectancy outcomes in their communities.
CSTE White Paper - Driving Public Health in the Fast Lane
Those of us who work in public health know the consequences of slow data sharing and antiquated data systems, delayed detection and response, and ultimately the loss of time and even lives. Data is the cornerstone of public health surveillance, and this report highlights the urgent need to modernize our data systems to implement today’s technologies, better protecting the public’s health.
Please take the time to read the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE's) newly released white paper titled “Driving Public Health in the Fast Lane: The Urgent Need for a 21st Century Data Superhighway”.