September 2017 Vital Records News

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Vital Records News

September, 2017

Medical Certifiers must Certify Cause of Death Online


Effective October 1, 2017, the Office of Vital Records (OVR), expects that all Minnesota deaths are registered electronically in the Minnesota Registration & Certification (MR&C) system. All medical certifiers, including licensed physicians, advanced practice registered nurses, and physician assistants, will certify deaths online. As the office eliminates paper registrations and data entry, OVR’s priority is to establish MR&C user accounts for medical certifiers. In addition, OVR is reaching out to medical certifiers and the health care community to inform them about the no paper policy and the need to become an MR&C user.

OVR has had electronic death registration for 20 years. In fact, Minnesota was an early adopter and leader. Although all funeral homes and nearly all medical examiners and coroners use MR&C , a large number of medical certifiers, for various reasons, have continued to provide information on paper. With the CDC-funded Paper Cut Project, OVR is changing the culture. Since the Project began in April 2016, the percent of deaths registered online by medical certifiers (or staff designates) has risen from 80 to 97 percent.

“We get more complete and accurate death certificates to families faster when both the fact and cause of death are entered directly into the Minnesota Registration and Certification System (MR&C), a secure, real-time, web-based application,” said Molly Crawford, State Registrar. “MR&C allows information to flow from funeral homes, to clinics and hospitals, to medical examiners and coroners and back so that registrations are secure, data are more complete, dispositions are approved, and certificates are ready.”

Using technology accomplishes the work of vital records efficiently and effectively in real time in one system.

OVR is leveraging its authority under the Minnesota Vital Records Act to eliminate paper registrations. The Act gives the State Registrar authority over the statewide system to collect, file, register and issue vital records. The State Registrar maintains the MR&C application, and directs the activities of people engaged in operations. OVR promotes uniform policies and procedures, and prescribes the means for the transmission of data that accomplish the purpose of complete, accurate, and timely reporting and registering of vital events. (Minnesota Statutes, section 144.213). The State Registrar is also responsible for the security of the system and its data and assuring that the activities of OVR and its partners are performed in accordance with the laws and rules that govern vital records. “With MR&C, we do this and we serve customers better than paper registration can,” said Crawford.

Medical certifiers who have never registered a death online, need to establish an MR&C user account. OVR encourages medical certifiers to set up their accounts before they have a death that needs to be registered. Medical certifiers can request access to MR&C by completing and submitting a MR&C User Agreement to OVR. When OVR receives the completed agreement, OVR will validate the medical certifiers’ credentials, create an account, assign them a user name and password, and help get them started. Go to the Minnesota Department of Health Death Registration Information website for information about becoming an MR&C user or call the OVR Help Desk at 651-201-5970.

Happy Birthday OVR Help Desk!

It is the one-year anniversary of the Minnesota Department of Health, Office of Vital Records (OVR) Help Desk. In August 2016, new team members started intensive training to staff the OVR Help Desk. The Help Desk purpose: to improve OVR customer service by creating a first point of contact for partners using MR&C and, people with questions about Minnesota vital records and the Minnesota Fathers’ Adoption Registry. Before the Help Desk, each unit in OVR published its own phone number and email address; multiple people within each unit responded to the calls and emails.

Today, just 12 months later, the Help Desk is completely up and running, responding to more than eight published phone lines and multiple email addresses. The OVR Help Desk (651-201-5970) is open Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., except for state and federal holidays.

Help Desk highlights:

  • Four full time agents who speak English, Hmong and Spanish
  • An average of 2,247 calls are answered each month
  • Over 1,188 emails received monthly

This last year has been an intense journey. Many thanks to all of our customers and internal and external stakeholders for your patience and support as we worked through the first year with the Help Desk.

Send a Happy Birthday message to the Help Desk at before October 10, 2017. The Help Desk will randomly select one name from all who respond for a fabulous prize!

September means ‘back to school’

OVR offers training and seeks co-hosts in Greater Minnesota

The Office of Vital Records (OVR) conducts training for staff from Minnesota funeral homes, hospitals, clinics, and county vital records offices. Training is also available for medical certifiers who complete cause of death.

Although training sessions are in St. Paul, OVR wants to offer training sessions at locations outside of the Twin Cities. If your hospital or clinic has a computer lab and can host a regional training, please email  with details about location, capacity and availability. 

The Five R’s of Death Registration – provides a comprehensive overview of death registration and tips to maximize the use of the Minnesota Registration & Certification (MR&C) system. Participants learn through guided lecture and demonstration, hands-on activities and discussion. Three hours of Regulation and Ethics continuing education credit are available for licensed morticians upon completion of the course. There is no cost to attend, but seating is limited and pre-registration is required.

The next Five R’s class is Thursday, November 9, 2017, 9 a.m. – noon, at the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Freeman Building on Robert Street in St. Paul. To attend, email with “5 R’s” in the subject line.

Birth Registration 101 – an introductory course that provides background, information, instruction, tips, and the hands-on experience needed to register births. Attendees also learn about helping unmarried parents establish paternity for their newborn. The course integrates a variety of educational techniques to help adult learners build their skills and develop professionally, including classroom instruction, group activities, video, hands-on computer experience and interactive situations that replicate the interactions birth registrars have with parents. There is no cost to attend, but seating is limited and pre-registration is required.

Birth 101 is required for new birth registrar users of MR&C. The next class is Tuesday, November 7, 2017, 8 a.m. - noon in the MDH Freeman Building on Robert Street in St. Paul. To attend, email with “Birth 101” in the subject line.

Birth Certificate eLearning, Applying Best Practices for Reporting Medical and Health Information on Birth Certificates, provides instruction for clinical and non-clinical providers of medical/health information on the birth certificate or the report of fetal death. The course, developed by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) at CDC, educates data providers on the important role they play in providing high quality data , and identifies resources to assist them in their role. Continuing education credits (CME, CNE, CEU and CPH) are available upon successful completion of the one-hour course. 

Forms feedback

In the July, 2017 issue of Vital Records News, we wrote about the forms review that the Office of Vital Records (OVR) is undertaking, and requested your feedback to the following questions:

  • What form do you need that we (OVR) do not have?
  • Do customers ask for documents that have no order form?
  • Do you want to modify or customize OVR forms for use in your county vital records office?
  • Would you like to see a webpage that has all of our forms in one place?
  • How would you like to find out about updated forms? MR&C? GovDelivery?

Most of the feedback came from County Vital Records Office (CVRO) personnel who want: 1) forms that they can customize for their county, 2) notification by GovDelivery email, the MR&C bulletin board and Vital Records News upon release of updated forms, and 3) a single web page containing all vital records forms. Also suggested was a birth certificate application in the Spanish language.

Over the coming months, OVR will put your recommendations into practice. Watch for announcements!

If you did not respond in July there is still time. Any stakeholder who uses an OVR form (user agreement, worksheet, funeral home application to amend a death record) can give feedback. Feel free to send feedback that you have gotten from your customers. Email: before October 10, 2017.

Thanks to those of you who shared your thoughts about customizing forms, having all of our forms on one web page and how you would like to be notified when new forms are available!

Office of Vital Records in the Community

2017 Community Health Conference

The Community Health Conference brings together state, tribal, local, and community public health practitioners on an annual basis. It is sponsored by the State Community Health Services Advisory Committee (SCHSAC) and the Minnesota Department of Health Center for Public Health PracticeThe Office of Vital Records will have a learning station at the conference that runs from September 27-29, 2017 at the Breezy Point Conference in Breezy Point, MN.

34th Annual Forensic Science Seminar

September 28-29, 2017 in Minneapolis, MN. The Office of Vital Records will be exhibiting and presenting.

National Association for Public Health Statistics and Information Systems (NAPHSIS) Regional Meeting

Columbus, OH, September 28-29, 2017.

Minnesota Family Support & Recovery Council Annual Conference

St. Cloud, MN, October 1-4, 2017. The Office of Vital Records will be exhibiting and presenting.

To contact the Office of Vital Records click below: