While public health is in the business of helping people live healthier lives, ADHS also provides a critical service to families by processing and issuing death certificates.
It’s a mission our Bureau of Vital Records takes very seriously and does very well. We know a death certificate is essential for closing out the affairs of a loved one. We also know that getting this document as soon as possible can help ease the strain of what is already a trying time.
Even amid a global pandemic, the Bureau of Vital Records has improved the time required for its part of the process of issuing a death certificate to typically less than a week. This compares to approximately a month nearly a decade ago. It’s just one example of how, using the Arizona Management System championed by Governor Doug Ducey, we are committed to continuously improving our value to Arizonans.
In addition to its improvements that get death certificates to families sooner, the Bureau of Vital Records has been a quiet force behind the scenes ensuring our team of epidemiologists and disease experts have the best possible COVID-19 death registration information as soon as possible. With any public health challenge, better and faster data is paramount to informed decision-making and response.
The Bureau of Vital Records is the last stop in the process of issuing a death certificate. That process begins with funeral homes and includes medical certifiers. But improvements by ADHS have made the process more efficient for all of those involved.
A main reason for faster processing of death certificates is the Bureau of Vital Records several years ago replacing a system relying on fax machines and paper charts with state-of-the-art software allowing for 100% electronic registration. Funeral homes can now enter a decedent’s data directly, including contact information for the person responsible for certifying the death. Notified by an email from ADHS, the medical certifier then logs into the system and adds the cause of death. The system automatically validates all of the information and registers the record.
Late last year, I shared that our Bureau of Vital Records became one of just three vital records in the country to be awarded national accreditation from the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB). This is quite an achievement. Established in 2007, PHAB is a nonprofit organization that champions performance improvement, strong infrastructure and innovation.
I’m proud of our Bureau of Vital Records and the work this team does every day for Arizonans, including families relying on us to process and issue death certificates. Our state is lucky to have forward-thinking, dedicated, and efficient professionals handling death certificates and other vital records.