Meeting the mandates of a data-driven future with Vitalware
Like many vital records departments, Tasmania’s Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages performs a dexterous balancing act: keeping one eye on the past and the other on the future, all while managing the demands of the day-to-day.
These day-to-day duties include providing core services to the general public and complying with legislative requirements to register all births, deaths, marriages, deeds of relationship and adoptions that occur in Tasmania, as well as all name and sex changes. The Registry issues the vital documents citizens need, such as birth, marriage and death certificates, to obtain drivers licences and passports, register a child for school, or settle an estate. In addition, the Registry provides data to government agencies and approved private organisations for statistical and research purposes.
In all, the Registry handles more than 45,000 documents per year for a population of over 500,000 people. It does so through a dynamic hub-and-spoke model, where 70 percent of all applications are receipted at Service Tasmania Centres, a network of 27 satellite offices around the state. These applications, and the remaining 30 percent lodged from interstate or overseas, are processed by the central Registry located near the capital city of Hobart.
Responsibility for ensuring the registering and issuing of documents is handled efficiently, cost-effectively and securely falls squarely on the Registry, and meeting this responsibility requires a robust, efficient system. That system is Vitalware.
Serving three masters
“Vitalware is our system of record at the Registry, and it plays a key role in our operations,” said Ann Owen, Manager, Births, Deaths and Marriages. “Each day it enables us to rapidly enter new records and handle applications for certificates; and each night it processes all the data collected and electronically filed by our Service Tasmania Centres, allowing us to issue certificates as early as the next day. It also facilitates our delivery of bulk records to the Australian Bureau of Statistics and other government agencies on a regular basis.”
Vitalware helps the Registry serve its stakeholders by enhancing data accuracy. For example, when users of the system enter records, “pick lists” guide the process. If the data entered, such as the name of a hospital or nursing home, doesn’t match details in the pre-defined pick list, the error is flagged before the record is processed.
The system provides other types of data validation as well, preventing the accidental entry of a birthdate such as 2030, or one so far in the past it would not be credible. These safety measures are built into the workflow of the system, with alerts proactively flagging errors before invalid information is saved.
“We’ve done quite a bit of work with Axiell to build in the kind of smarts we need to save us headaches down the road,” said Ms. Owen. “We have pick lists and load alerts that basically tell us, ‘stop, don’t do it, there is a mistake!’ By proactively putting such guardrails in place, we get better data in the system. And better data is our ongoing focus – it is vital to providing the service levels our customers demand and positioning us to respond nimbly and intelligently to future needs.”
Business at the speed of life
Vitalware delivers many of the features the Registry requires to help the residents of Tasmania conduct their business at the speed of life. The system scales to store hundreds of thousands of records, speeds the processing of new applications and the issuing of certificates, and has the capability to store digital images of historical records dating back to the 1800s.
“Vitalware is a system that continues to evolve with us,” added Ms. Owen. “The range of vital records is constantly growing. New legislation regularly requires new types of records and certificates. The government’s growing interest in, and mandates for, vital records requires more than a searchable database – it requires a real system, one that is secure, fully supported and continually updated. Vitalware has helped the Registry successfully transition from having ‘a database that holds information’ to a system that enables us to run our business better and keep pace with change.”
For example, the Registry and Axiell have enhanced Vitalware to automate the processing of sensitive records, delivering the results of data-matching enquiries directly to the authorised personnel who initiated them. This secure, automatic data-matching allows state officials to conduct the investigations they need with the confidence that the information that leaves their systems will be handled seamlessly by the Registry and returned to them without human intervention.
The software’s use by other, larger Registries also benefits Tasmania. “Knowing Vitalware is the system of choice of some larger jurisdictions in Australia and around the world is an asset to us here,” commented Ms. Owen. “For example, as we prepare to move more of our application process online, we can leverage off the system developments already completed by the Queensland Registry – fellow Vitalware users who are making this same transition now. Instead of starting from scratch, we can build on the foundation of what is working there and elsewhere, saving us time and money.”
It’s all about the data
As demands on the Registry change, the need for quality data – clean, accurate, accessible, secure – remains a constant. And achieving that remains the central pursuit of the Registry, one that keeps Ms. Owen and her team engaged and moving forward.
“I see huge value and meaning in our collecting quality data and being able to provide it for planning, research and health purposes,” concluded Ms. Owen. “Most people think of the Registry as ‘the place that produces certificates’, but I always remind my staff about the role we are playing in something bigger – the wealth of importance data plays in society as a whole. I only see this importance growing in the future as data matching, the interpretation of data, and the intelligence that comes from linking data continue to grow.”
- Guided data entry reduces errors, enhances data quality.
- Flexibility and scalability of the system helps the Registry keep pace with high data volumes, new government mandates.
- Vitalware’s global and local user community provides valuable examples of new best practices, improving the Registry’s use of the system while minimising cost.