International Classification of Health Interventions (ICHI)

The purpose of this classification is to provide Member States, health care service providers and organizers, and researchers with a common tool for reporting and analysing the distribution and evolution of health interventions for statistical purposes. It is structured with various degrees of specificity for use at the different levels of the health systems, and uses a common accepted terminology in order to permit comparison of data between countries and services.

History: The need to classify interventions first emerged in 1971. It was initially limited to surgical procedures. The first International Classification of Procedures in Medicine (ICPM) was published in 1978. International work on the subject came to a virtual halt in 1989 , because of the inadequacy of the consultation procedures with regard to the necessary adaptability to rapid and extensive changes in the field.

A number of countries, however, undertook work for national purposes. The resulting classifications came short of providing adequate tools for use at the international level. Today, the need for an international classification has reemerged with a wider scope. The envisaged International Classification of Health Interventions aims to cover a wide range of measures taken for curative and preventive purposes by medical, surgical and other health-related care services.

Current status: In recent years, the Network of WHO Collaborating Centres for the Family of International Classifications has promoted the development of a short list of health Interventions for international use, based on the Australian Modification of the International Classification of Diseases, 10th revision (ICD-10-AM) It is intended to be used in countries that do not, as yet, have their own classification of interventions.

An initial ICHI version is being adapted to meet present day conformance criteria with recognized standards. In particular, the multiple application areas of such a classification calls for a multiaxial capture of the underlying knowledge. Furthermore rapid change in science and technology implies frequent updates. Adequate technical solutions must therefore be developed. The Family Development Committee of the Network of WHO Collaborating Centers for the Family of international Classifications is actively developing plans and canvassing support to that end.