North Carolina Timeliness of Provisional Death Data Project


Impact Statement: 
Recognizing the critical role of timely and accurate death data for local health departments (LHDs) to perform surveillance and make informed decisions, the North Carolina Department of Health & Human Services used quality improvement to decrease the lag in posting identifiable death data from the state to LHDs from 99 to 17 days.

The North Carolina Timeliness of Provisional Death Data Project is one of four projects in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Forum to Explore Quality Improvement among Federal, State, and Local Agencies to address the timeliness of death data received by local public health agencies. The benefits of this project include the following: (1) state and local health departments will have data for surveillance, program planning and evaluation, making informed decisions, guiding programs, and ultimately improving health outcomes; (2) vital records and vital statistics tasks will be more efficient and require less labor; (3) state and local employee relationships will improve; and (4) health departments will benefit in meeting Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) standards and accreditation.

This data utilization project focused on North Carolina Vital Records, examining the process from the receipt of the death certificate at the state health department to the availability of the preliminary data at LHDs. The project kicked off with a Kaizen event in January 2015, which consisted of examining the current state process through process mapping and observing the process in person, completing a root cause analysis, brainstorming and prioritizing solutions, testing solutions, and implementing the new process. As of May 2015, the improvements have acheived measurable results, including an 83% reduction in total cycle time (from the number of days from registration to posting data on the server) from 99 days (pre-Kaizen) to 17 days (May 2015), while ensuring that the cumulative average number of death certificates numbered per week has exceeded the 1,650 target, currently at 2,033 at the end of May.

Organization that conducted the QI initiative: 
North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services

Howell, E. Public Health Quality Improvement Exchange. North Carolina Timeliness of Provisional Death Data Project. Thu, 11/16/2017 - 14:20. Available at Accessed April 14, 2024.

Submission Status: 
In Progress
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