ICD-11: an international classification of diseases for the twenty-first century

BMC Med Inform Decis Mak. 2021 Nov 9;21(Suppl 6):206. doi: 10.1186/s12911-021-01534-6.


Background: The International Classification of Diseases (ICD) has long been the main basis for comparability of statistics on causes of mortality and morbidity between places and over time. This paper provides an overview of the recently completed 11th revision of the ICD, focusing on the main innovations and their implications.

Main text: Changes in content reflect knowledge and perspectives on diseases and their causes that have emerged since ICD-10 was developed about 30 years ago. Changes in design and structure reflect the arrival of the networked digital era, for which ICD-11 has been prepared. ICD-11's information framework comprises a semantic knowledge base (the Foundation), a biomedical ontology linked to the Foundation and classifications derived from the Foundation. ICD-11 for Mortality and Morbidity Statistics (ICD-11-MMS) is the primary derived classification and the main successor to ICD-10. Innovations enabled by the new architecture include an online coding tool (replacing the index and providing additional functions), an application program interface to enable remote access to ICD-11 content and services, enhanced capability to capture and combine clinically relevant characteristics of cases and integrated support for multiple languages.

Conclusions: ICD-11 was adopted by the World Health Assembly in May 2019. Transition to implementation is in progress. ICD-11 can be accessed at icd.who.int.

Keywords: Classification; Epidemiology; Informatics; International classification of diseases; Statistics; eHealth.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biological Ontologies*
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • International Classification of Diseases*
  • Knowledge Bases