Paperless death certificates: all you need to know!


The decree of 21 April 2017 authorizes the digitization of the administrative death certificate process. This new regulation has paved the way for an experiment aimed at simplifying the chain of transmission of death certificates. Focus.

It was after the heat wave of 2003 and the lack of information from the Ministry of Health in the face of the situation that the issue of the paperless death certificates emerged. Indeed, the authorities need to collect data quickly on the causes of death in order to direct real-time public health and health alert policies. In 2006, a first step was made: the medical death certificate process went paperless, thus limiting the intermediaries between doctors and organizations, such as INSERM for example, responsible for analyzing the data.

At the end of May 2017, an experiment was conducted in six French cities by the CPFM (Confederation of Funeral Professionals and Marble Masonry). They conducted an experiment making the administrative death certificate process paperless. This took longer to put into action than the paperless medical process because of its complexity linked to a larger number of people involved. The principle is as follows: Physicians fill out the entire electronic certificate after identifying themselves on the platform. Once the death certificate has been registered, the medical information is automatically and securely transmitted to the relevant stakeholders. The administrative component is sent to civil registration services via the exchange and trust platform that automates the death certificate. In addition, this certificate is available on a dedicated portal for funeral operations. The family’s chosen funeral operator, after logging onto the portal, has access to the death certificate, and can download it. This way they can comprehend the necessary information to carry out the funeral operations entrusted to them.

This simplification is beneficial for all stakeholders, starting with the users, since they do not have to transmit the administrative part of the death certificate to the town hall within 24 hours of receiving the document. They can also receive reliable information on funeral operators, whose authorizations are standardized at the national level. As for operators, they have access to better quality, more complete and more secure data. Doctors no longer have to print this document, which is currently difficult when they are outside of their office. Finally, it benefits civil status officers who can now retrieve the data in real time, since it is directly incorporated in the civil status register.

Two surveys were carried out at the end of August and the end of October 2017. 64% of the operators reckon they will save more than 15 minutes in their processes, 95% say that going paperless allows for better data readability and for 97% of the respondents, the data is more complete. This experiment is a genuine success!