Key Takeaways from NAPHSIS 20222

Key Takeaways from NAPHSIS 2022

GCOM recently attended the NAPHSIS conference, which brings together people who work in the realm of vital records, to enjoy networking with peers and learning about the latest products or technology to improve vital records and health statistics functions. We’d like to share a few of our key takeaways from the event:

FHIR Funding and Implementation

The Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resource (FHIR) standard is positioned to become the data standard that supports health applications everywhere. It is based on internet norms used in many industries outside of healthcare and was developed in response to the need for an easier and faster method to exchange the fast-growing amount of data in healthcare.

As part of the pandemic funds, each jurisdiction received $1.35M in ELC funding to be used to implement FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) over a three-year period. National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) is providing the guidance to help jurisdictions use FHIR resources to exchange death data with NCHS. The Vital Records Death Reporting FHIR implementation guide (VRDR FHIR IG) is designed to facilitate bidirectional exchange of mortality data between vital records offices and NCHS. While this new requirement will improve healthcare for the better by increasing access to information across healthcare systems, it presents its own challenges such as the actual implementation and on-going management of the complex FHIR standards. Due to internal processes, most states are indicating the three-year timeframe will be a challenge as they were not planning to implement FHIR prior to the CDC funding.

GCOM shared details on our efficient and economical solution for FHIR implementation and how we have successfully worked with the CDC in completing one of the first FHIR implementations in New York City.

Vital Records: COVID-19, Staffing Shortages, and Quality Improvement Activities

A few common themes emerged during NAPHSIS around the Vital Records space. One was the discussion around raw data collection, including death statistics by causes of death, which became an extremely relevant topic as the country emerged from COVID-19.

During the pandemic, electronic vital records systems like GCOM’s, were pivotal in rolling out electronic death certifications. The quick conversion to new causes of deaths helped vital records departments keep up with COVID-related volume surges to that accurate death data could be used to track and understand COVID-19 and how to keep people safe. GCOM’s vital records software offered the flexibility and configurability for the NYC DOHMH to enroll 136 facilities and 7K new providers for electronic death certifications.

Accurate reporting of COVID death-related data helped aid the city in daily operations meetings and monitor vital records productivity during the overwhelming stress of the COVID surge in NYC.  And while vital records quality improvement activities such as provider cause of death documentation and electronic reporting surged during the height of the pandemic to 67% nationwide, in 2021 it trickled down to 63%. However, COVID should be a perfect example of why quality improvement activities surrounding vital records data and reporting, like what’s offered through GCOM, is so critical going forward.

Another topic discussed at NAPHSIS was that of attrition and staffing shortages as it relates to vital records departments across the country. As most industries and businesses experienced reductions in business and shortages in staffing options during the pandemic, vital records departments are no different. However, the importance of vital records departments and the data they produce became very clear during the height of COVID. With many vital records departments still struggling to hire, GCOM’s vital record systems provides a solution that helps its customers increase throughput and productivity electronically while helping to alleviate attrition.

Overall, the conversations and takeaways from the 2022 NAPHSIS Conference trended towards what GCOM was already hearing from its many vital records clients. Our discussions around our offerings were met with interest as we educated attendees on our most recent vital record system implementations and the current projects we are working on for state and local government entities throughout the country.

-GCOM Leadership Team