Massachusetts Launches Comprehensive Document Management Program for Public Records

The vital records are both handwritten and typed. Many of the records have been environmentally damaged.

by / June 2, 2008

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), Registry of Vital Records and Statistics (RVRS), recognized the need to establish secure processes to efficiently and accurately capture approximately 10 million vital records and convert them to digital images. Converting these paper documents and capturing their information content, will pave the way to ultimately provide three key benefits: identity verification for Medicaid (MassHealth), an efficient way to store and retrieve the documents, and establishment of an electronic disaster recovery program.

Massachusetts State House

Stanley E. Nyberg, register of Vital Records and Statistics for the commonwealth, had a goal to implement a more efficient and effective way to conduct searches pertaining to births. Currently the commonwealth collects, processes, validates, preserves and issues copies of birth, death and marriage records that have taken place in Massachusetts. RVRS also processes and collects core public health data to be used by DPH for healthcare policy and researchers studying the health of Massachusetts citizens.

The vital records documents consist of approximately 5 million birth certificates from the years 1935-1987, 4.5 million death certificates from 1935-present, and 500,000 amendments from 1935 to present. The vital records are both handwritten and typed. Many of the records have been environmentally damaged. The document conversion solution by DataBank will leverage the latest tools and technology to transform an estimated 10 million vital records into digital images, and capture hundreds of millions of data characters to build a corresponding index file. The complete collection of images and information will be delivered to the Department of Public Health's EMC/Documentum system. From there, authorized users will be able to search, retrieve and print scanned images depending on the level of security they have been granted.

"As the Department of Public Health for the commonwealth moves forward with this birth and death records digitizing project, it is just one more step towards the end result of cooperation and interagency collaboration that will establish Massachusetts as a leader in this space" said DataBank's Barbara Martin, VP for Government Business Development.