ICD-11 Beta: Expectations, Concerns and Known Issues

Information for Beta Participants

The ICD-11 Beta Phase started on 14 May 2012. The final version of ICD-11 will be released in June 2018. This announcement clarifies that the ICD-11 Beta version is not final, and will continue to be enhanced by input from multiple stakeholders for 5 years during the Beta Phase.

Extensive field testing and a formal consultation with WHO Member States has provided additional input. As a result, major efforts will be dedicated to improving the user guidance to ensure consistent use of ICD-11.


The ICD-11 Beta website clearly states certain CAVEATS that:

  • the current Beta Draft is not final
  • the Beta Draft is updated daily
  • it is not approved by WHO
  • it is not to be used for coding in practice except for agreed projects

Problems and Issues

WHO has compiled a list of known problems and issues. Beta participants are advised not to spend valuable time on problems that are already known and for which solutions are planned or in progress.

Concerns and Criticisms

Given the varying interests of different user groups, the ICD-11 Beta Phase has generated different reactions. WHO seeks a scientific basis to ensure comparability and consistency and to allow flexibility of the tool to be fit for different purposes.

WHO has noted some concerns and criticisms, and these may be useful to provide solutions to problems.

Contact US

The WHO Beta Team is poised to respond to additional questions and comments about the ICD-11 beta phase.

Please address your comments, questions, and concerns to

Continuous Improvement

Continuous improvement of ICD-11 Beta is the expected goal. This method is also expected to serve as the future update mechanism for ICD-11 after 2018. During the Beta Phase, content will be continuously reviewed by scientific peers, updated accordingly, and field tested for better quality.

Consistency and Comparability

Today, ICD-10 has multiple uses, various users, and uses legacy conventions which do not always align with each other. Examination of past uses in different countries and settings has shown that ICD has not been used consistently and the results are not necessarily comparable. ICD revision aims to address these crucial issues of consistency and comparability. The ICD-11 Beta Phase has created an organized knowledge base in which different versions of ICD may be viewed as representations of the same core. In this knowledge base, WHO has built a comprehensive library of all ICD entities, which is called the FOUNDATION. From this common core, user defined lists can be produced, which are called LINEARIZATIONS or TABULAR LISTS.

In summary, there is the digital library of common ICD core entities; the "Foundation” from which multiple linearizations may be defined, as shown below:


  • Linearization1: for use in Mortality and Morbidity Statistics (e.g. Cause of Death and Casemix)
  • Linearization2: for use in Primary Care
  • Linearization3: for use in Cancer Registration
  • LinearizationN: for specified Use Cases

This approach provides consistency in that different linearizations refer to the same concepts; thus comparability is ensured.

This approach also allows the recording of all entities in the foundation individually, using their URIs.

In addition, this approach allows ICD-11 be a digital tool, use linked data from different sources, and provide web services over the internet.

Page updated on 31 October 2017