May 2017 Vital Records News

MAY 2017

Vital Records News

The Countdown is on!

countdown to no paper

The countdown is on — only five months remain until October 1, 2017. What happens then?

Beginning October 1, the Office of Vital Records (OVR) will direct all medical certifiers and their designated staff to enter cause of death information directly into Minnesota Registration & Certification (MR&C). As part of the Paper Cut Project, OVR has been working to eliminate paper and faxes from the death registration process. By maximizing the functions of MR&C, death registration and death records will be more timely, accurate, and complete. Electronic death registration also assures that the cause of death provided for authorizations for cremation as final disposition are consistent with the cause of death recorded on legal death records and death certificates.

Electronic death registration isn’t new. Minnesota was an early adopter initiating electronic death registration two decades ago. Funeral staff register all deaths directly into the statewide vital records system. After launching MR&C in 2011, OVR focused on registering the cause of death electronically. Initially OVR pushed hard to recruit physicians to become online users and OVR allowed physicians to designate staff to input the cause of death data that the physician provided into MR&C on the physician’s behalf. Our efforts along with funeral directors encouraging physicians to “get online” were productive but leveled off with about 75 percent of Minnesota death records completely filed electronically in MR&C.

For a number of reasons, paper requests to authorize cremation and paper worksheets to provide the cause of death continue to circulate, mostly by faxes, among funeral staff, clinics, physicians, medical examiners and coroners. Sometimes this results in physicians providing the cause of death two and three times if the physician was an MR&C user for the same decedent. Ultimately, paper worksheets are faxed to OVR to enter death data into MR&C and finalize the record.

In 2016, the Ramsey and Hennepin County medical examiner offices stopped approving paper cremation requests and went to approving cremation requests electronically through MR&C. This action spurred large numbers of physicians to become MR&C users in 2016. OVR is targeting health care organizations and has worked directly with many clinics and hospitals.

Cutting the paper out of the death registration process has already yielded these results:

  • Physicians or designates enter causes of death into MR&C about 95% of the time—up from 67% in 2012.
  • The number of death records filed legally and medically within 5 days of death has increased from 46% in 2016, to 78% during the first quarter of 2017.

 Additional benefits:

  • Physician (or designate) provides cause of death (COD) information oncein MR&C
  • MR&C populates cremation authorization requests with data directly from the death record
  • COD on death record and cremation authorization are consistent and the medical certifier is the same
  • Cremations are approved “on line”
  • Deciphering errors reduced (handwriting, fax illegibility)
  • Timeliness, data accuracy, quality and security improved
  • Decedent’s family gets accurate death certificates more quickly
  • Positions all of us for interoperability among electronic systems

During these countdown months, funeral establishments and physicians need to maximize their use of the MR&C:

  • STOP faxing cause of death worksheets
  • STOP faxing cremation request forms
  • Encourage physician colleagues to get an MR&C user account
  • Reach out to OVR for help in recruiting, training, and onboarding new MR&C users

Contact the OVR Help Desk at 651-201-5970 or to become an MR&C user, talk to someone about MR&C training, or to obtain more information about the countdown.

Moving Information: vital records data exchanges

Today’s world demands data to inform decisions, prove hypotheses, measure changes, performance and improvement. With our partners, the Office of Vital Records (OVR) collects, stores, and shares information about Minnesota’s vital events. Our work and responsibility is at the intersection of data, technology, and time. More and more agencies, programs, and individuals need our data to be complete, accurate, and timely. And more of these audiences expect and demand our information to be accessible and available, increasingly in real-time.

Vital records offices across the country are re-engineering and building capacity. Minnesota is no exception. Although OVR is still a long way from interoperability, where systems exchange data easily and routinely, we are gearing up and positioning processes for a future state that supports more efficient and effective data exchange. We have systems that help us collect, store, and share data securely and efficiently today. These include systems and applications used within Minnesota and across jurisdictions.

Minnesota Registration and Certification (MR&C)

MR&C is OVR’s electronic vital records system. It is a single web-based application that provides for:

  • electronic registration of births, deaths, fetal deaths
  • secure storage of data in a statewide database
  • issuance of certified and non-certified documents from vital records
  • sharing data through direct system access, file downloads, and reports.

MR&C has more than 8,000 users statewide. It was created specifically for Minnesota and introduced in 2011. System maintenance and upgrades are handled by the State of Minnesota’s central IT organization (MNIT).

State and Territorial Exchange of Vital Events (STEVE)

STEVE is a system owned and operated by the National Association of Public Health Statistics and Information Systems (NAPHSIS) that allows OVR and other vital records jurisdictions to:

  • Maintain control of their data and its release.
  • Send statistical data to the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) for inclusion in the National Vital Statistics System and receive ICD-10 coded death data back from NCHS.
  • Send and receive vital events about residents in other jurisdictions. STEVE allows OVR to receive data about Minnesota residents who give birth or die outside our state and to send data about non-residents who give birth or die in Minnesota to their states. This helps us track not only what happens within our borders but what happens to our residents when they are away from Minnesota. For example, because of STEVE, we know how many people died IN Minnesota and how many MINNESOTANS died.
  • Reduce fraud and identity theft. Not everyone dies in the state where they were born. By using STEVE, OVR and other jurisdictions receive death information so that we can flag birth records and mark birth certificates as 'deceased’.
  • Provide data to authorized data partners for authorized public health and administrative purposes. STEVE works like a mailbox where OVR can send data to external and internal Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) programs such as birth defects.

Electronic Verification of Vital Events (EVVE)

The EVVE system, owned and operated by NAPHSIS, allows immediate confirmation of the legitimacy of a US birth certificate presented to a government office anywhere in the nation. EVVE helps government agencies reach across jurisdictions to accomplish their work. It is a secure tool like STEVE that allows jurisdictions to control the release of data, and it is an efficient and effective business solution that generates fee revenue for OVR. Using EVVE, authorized users can send an electronic query to OVR and other participating vital records jurisdictions to securely:

  • Help the U.S. Department of State verify the validity and legitimacy of a paper birth certificate submitted as part of a U.S. Passport application.
  • Request an electronic birth certification instead of the paper birth certificate.
  • Provide an immediate electronic response to the user that either verifies or denies the match with the official records.
  • Flag responses in which the person matched is actually deceased, an important step that prevents fraud.

Electronic Verification of Vital Events—Fact of Death (EVVE FOD)

EVVE FOD is a new system operated by NAPHSIS that permits government and non-government customers to quickly, reliably, and securely discover if a death record exists. Authorized users send single or batch file inquiries through EVVE FOD to be matched against death records from state and jurisdiction vital record databases nationwide. An electronic response from the state or jurisdiction either returns the date and place of death or denies a match within a matter of seconds. Fees are based on volume. EVVE FOD went live in March 2017 with data available from 37 of the 57 jurisdictions including Minnesota. Read more in the NAPHSIS Releases New Fact of Death Query Service: Revolutionizes Availability of Death Record Data press release.

The future holds many possibilities for vital records. Technology as well as the expectations and demands of our partners and customers will shape how we collect and manage our data. Interoperability is on the horizon for many programs including vital records. MDH has embarked on a new project to move the agency and its programs forward. Our vision: better public health through standardized electronic data exchange with our partners. See the MDH Minnesota e-Health webpage for more information about e-health and the initiative to adopt effective use of Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems and other health information technology (HIT).

Stay “IN THE KNOW” with Vital Records News

figure with megaphone

The Office of Vital Records (OVR) uses Vital Records News to inform customers and stakeholders of Minnesota’s vital records program and the Minnesota Registration & Certification (MR&C) system. OVR wants you to be up-to-date and “in the know”.

Each month, the OVR newsletter team sits down to decide on the content of Vital Records News. We would love to hear your ideas and suggestions for items you would like to see in future editions. Please send your recommendations to We look forward to including your ideas in upcoming issues.

We are also looking for a few champions to help spread the word about Vital Records News. Share the newsletter with your colleagues to help keep them “in the know”. Your colleagues can self-subscribe using the link at the bottom of this Minnesota Department of Health Office of Vital Records page.

Let us know that you read Vital Records News! Send an email to on or before Wednesday, May 10 at 4 p.m. with the words “I read Vital Records News” in the subject line. One individual selected from of the pool of responses will get a prize and recognition in the June issue of Vital Record News.

Good luck and thank you for your readership. We are thankful for YOU and all you do.



Less is more. Enter one or two items of information, such as the date of the event and the first or last name to search for a record, or the first few letters of a medical certifier last name. By limiting search criteria, you are more likely to find the record/physician you want.

MR&C - Don’t Wait

Best practice: Complete and file records as soon as possible. An unfinished record may cause another MR&C user to create a second record. Two records for the same person generates confusion and delays filing the record on a timely basis. OVR and Minnesota families count on you, our partners to file complete and timely vital records.


May 5, 2017,  Cause of death training at Fairview Brooklyn Park Clinic.

May 16, 2017, 8:15-9:45 a.m.,  OVR all staff meeting. Responses to voice and email messages will be made after 9:45 a.m.

May 18-19, 2017, Hospital Medicine Updates: A Full Systems Review, Minneapolis. OVR exhibit.

May 22, 2017,  Cause of death training at Allina Coon Rapids.

May 22 - 24, 2017, Minnesota Funeral Directors Association (MFDA) Annual Convention,  Bloomington. OVR exhibit, and on May 24 from 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Open Forum with MDH Office of Vital Records and Mortuary Science Section staff.

June 1, 2017, Mortuary Science Ad-Hoc Advisory Committee.

June 5 - 8, 2017, National Association for Public Health Statistics and Information Systems (NAPHSIS) Annual Meeting, Memphis, Tennessee.


State Registrar
Molly Mulcahy Crawford

Deputy State Registrar
Heidi Granlund

Issuance Unit Supervisor and Anti-Fraud Coordinator
Brenda Shinaul

Registration & Amendments Supervisor
Krista Bauer

Office of Vital Records

Support Lines:

County Vital Records Offices