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ICD-11: What It Means for Your Practice

The World Health Organization (WHO) adopted the eleventh revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-11) at its World Health Assembly meeting in May 2019. It addition to other major changes, ICD-11 includes a new classification for chronic pain as well as new groups of codes for chronic pain conditions. After a decade of preparation, ICD-11 will become effective in January 2022. The advance release allows countries to plan how to use the new version and train health professionals.

However, that doesn't mean the codes will be implemented on the effective date by member countries. January 2022 is simply the earliest date that countries can use ICD-11. Like ICD-10, countries will probably implement the new code set at varying times. For example, although ICD-10 was adopted by the WHO in 1990, the U.S. did not implement the new code set for clinical practice until October 2015. ICD-10 was used in the U.S. for death certificates beginning in 1999 so it is possible ICD-11 may be used for this purpose prior to full implementation of the revised code set.

Given the delayed implementation of ICD-10, it is likely that ICD-11 implementation will be several years away. Of note, the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics (NCVHS) sent a letter to the Health and Human Services secretary providing recommendations for simplifying the adoption of future versions of ICD. The recommendations were also noted in the NCVHSMarch 2019 report to Congress. Whether these recommendations will result in a streamlined adoption of ICD-11 is yet to be seen.

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