Birth Certificates - from event to published data

If birth certificates are completed electronically and then sent to ISDH, why does it take so long to get the information out to the public?

While having birth certificate data arrive electronically has improved the time spent getting the information to ISDH, there are still numerous tasks that need to be completed to ensure that the correct information is obtained from the certificates.

The flow chart is a simple illustration of the process of getting information that can be reported to the public from birth certificates.

All birth certificates from a given year should be sent to ISDH by the end of June of the next year; however, ISDH also must wait to receive the birth certificates from other state departments of health for Indiana residents that gave birth outside of the state.

Then the quality checks begin.  Numerous computer programs are run to check for accuracy.  A certificate may have one or many items that need to be verified before proceeding.  This process takes months.  For 2001 natality data, ISDH-ERC released provisional birth information in August 2002, while the final data should be available in October 2002.

When all the information is completed and verified, it is also sent to the National Center for Health Statistics, which produces national vital statistics reports.

The process is similar for death certificates; however, electronic death certificates are not available yet.  All information from the paper death certificates are entered into computers by the coders in the ISDH Vital Statistics Division.  It usually takes a year to finalize mortality data so it can be released to the public.

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