CDC Foundation Announces Awardees For Collaborative Aimed At Improving Data Sharing for Medicolegal Death Investigation


In the United States, there are over 2,000 medicolegal death investigation (MDI) offices, responsible for investigating and determining cause and manner of death for unnatural, unexplained and unwitnessed deaths. In a death investigation, medicolegal death investigators examine the body, determine whether to perform an autopsy, order x-rays and toxicology tests and conduct interviews with family and friends to understand the circumstances surrounding a death.

Though the MDI community is seen as a critical public health player, the lack of a federal MDI system creates a wide variation in death investigation and reporting across MDI offices. Although there are established guidelines for conducting medicolegal death investigations, policies, procedures and standards for sharing, storing and securing data are still being formulated.

Performing medicolegal death investigations and partnering with public health requires equipment, technical support and funding, especially to modernize data practices and systems. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is prioritizing data modernization to ensure MDI offices have adequate systems to ease the burden of performing MDI and collaborating with their data sharing partners.

HL7’s Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR®) is a standard originally created so that health care data systems can interconnect using the same “language”. FHIR is being explored as a data standard to enable data exchange between MDI case management systems and data systems used by other agencies–such as vital records, toxicology and more.

To help MDI offices implement FHIR, CDC’s Collaborating Office for Medical Examiners and Coroners (COMEC) and the CDC Foundation are launching the Medicolegal Death Investigation FHIR Implementation Collaborative (MDI FIC). This national learning collaborative will enable MDI offices to pilot the use of FHIR to improve MDI data exchange with data-sharing partners.

The CDC Foundation, in collaboration with CDC, is excited to announce seven jurisdictions who will be awarded $100,000 each to participate in MDI FIC:

Alabama: Jefferson County Coroner/Medical Examiner’s Office

Alaska: Alaska State Medical Examiner’s Office

Georgia: DeKalb County Medical Examiner’s Office

Illinois: Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office

Michigan: Sparrow Office of Medical Examiner

Minnesota: Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office

South Carolina: Charleston County Coroner’s Office

From March to July 2023, participating jurisdictions will learn alongside other MDI offices through virtual and in-person cohort meetings. The selected sites will also receive technical assistance from FHIR subject matter experts to develop and test FHIR and API-enabled data sharing. Enhancements will be built to existing MDI electronic case management systems (CMS) in accordance with HL7’s FHIR® open standards to facilitate innovation and capability to be replicated in other MDI offices.

For updates and to hear about new MDI data modernization initiative opportunities, email us at Visit the COMEC website to learn more about resources available to support the MDI community.

This Medicolegal Death Investigation FHIR Implementation Collaborative (MDI FIC) is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $ 1,469,915 with 100 percent funded by CDC/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by CDC/HHS, or the U.S. Government.




Gina Wiser, MPH, is the project manager for the Medicolegal Death Investigation FHIR Implementation Collaborative (MDI FIC).