ICD-11 Beta: Expectations, Concerns and Known Issues

Information for Beta Participants

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


The ICD-11 Beta website clearly states CAVEATS that:

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

Problems and Issues

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

By these measures we alert the users to understand the DRAFT nature of ICD-11 Beta and not to discredit it from the start. The aim of the Beta phase is to open the revision process to all interested stakeholders.

Concerns and Criticisms

Given the varying interests of different user groups, ICD-11 Beta Phase is expected to generate 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.

We have 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 the ICD-11 after 2017. 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 use 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 or the results are not necessarily comparable. ICD revision aims to address this crucial issue of consistency and comparability. ICD-11 Beta has created an organized knowledgebase in which different versions of ICD could be viewed as representations of the same core. In this knowledgebase, we have built comprehensive library of all ICD entities, which is called the FOUNDATION component. From this common core, user defined lists can be produced, which are called LINEARIZATIONS.

In summary, there is the digital library of common ICD core: “the Foundation” from which we can define multiple linearizations, as shown below:


  • Linearization1: for use in Mortality (e.g. Cause of Death)
  • Linearization2: for use in Morbidity (e.g. Casemix)
  • Linearization3: for use in Morbidity (e.g. Primary Care)
  • LinearizationN: for use in UsecaseN

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

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