U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS – This month, the VI Department of Health’s Office of Vital Records and Statistics (VRS) took its first significant step in towards its goal of going fully digital by March of this year, with the full implementation of a live birth module that allows VI hospitals to share new birth information electronically and in real time.
“In line with Governor Bryan’s goal of creating a more digital approach to services throughout the government, one of my top priorities for the Department is also to digitize some of the operations creating a more efficient workflow for our clients,” said VI Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion. “The Office of Vital Records and Statistics is the first of our programs to pivot to full digitization which achieves the goal of providing efficient services for our customers searching birth and death certificates and developing a sound data management process.”
A digital Vital Records and Statistics program is foundational to automating healthcare systems throughout the Territory.
In 2023, the VI Department of Health contracted with Axiell, a global software solutions company, to implement, test and stabilize the Vital Records Information Management System (VRIMS) in the US Virgin Islands, and to train staff and stakeholders on its use. VRIMS is an application that electronically captures, registers, preserves, and disseminates birth and death data.
“In December we began transitioning to a live birth module between the Territory’s hospitals and VRS, moving from in-person receipt of the US Standards Certificate of Birth to real-time digital birth records,” said Lorraine Benjamin-Matthew, Director of the Office of Vital Records and Statistics at the VI Department of Health. “Prior to digitizing the module, a member of the VRS team would go in-person to the hospital to obtain paperwork capturing new births. Now, the process begins at the source – the point at which the birth took place – with a digital birth registration. Once the hospital completes the necessary details, the record is sent to VRS queue for processing.”
Non-hospital births, however, will continue to be captured manually.
The birth module not only brings immediate value to VI hospitals and new parents, but it also allows for:
-direct, automated reporting to National Association for Public Health Statistics and Information Systems (NAPHSIS) via State and Territorial Exchange of Vital Events (STEVE), a data-exchange system.
-direct access to reports for the VI Department of Justice’s Paternity and Child Support Division, GERS, Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Board of Elections, Social Security Administration, the Department of Human Services and for the VI Department of Health’s Maternal Child Health, Infant and Toddlers and Women, Infants and Children (WIC) divisions.
-direct access for non-government organizations such as KIDS Count.
The birth module is one of six major components of the Vital Records Information Management System, that will be automated by March of 2024.
“The implementation of VRIMS is moving the VI Department of Health into a new era where the focus is on improved services and greater integration with other US jurisdictions and reporting bodies such as the Social Security Administration and not on the task of capturing records,” Director Benjamin-Matthew said. “At a territorial level, it will allow for greater integration among the various departments and divisions which would only lead to better collaboration amongst stakeholders.”
The VI Bureau of Information Technology and CrucianPoint, a VI web design company, collaborated with the VI Department of Health and its contractor Axiell, to successfully provide this cloud-based solution to hospitals.
Commissioner Encarnacion expressed her gratitude to the hardworking Vital Records and Statistics team and to the department’s stakeholders and partners who are helping the transition to digitization seamless and successful.