These frequently asked questions accompany CIHI’s Introduction to ICD-11 webinar series and address some of the most common questions about the International Classification of Diseases 11th Revision (ICD-11). They answer general questions about ICD-11 as well as questions about its functionality and features.

About ICD-11

What is ICD-11?

ICD-11 is the 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD). ICD is a tool for recording, reporting on and grouping conditions and factors that influence health. It contains categories for diseases, health-related conditions and external causes of illness or death.1

Why was ICD-11 created?

The decision to revise the ICD for the 21st century was made in 2000 at the World Health Assembly. ICD-11 is designed to be used in electronic health information systems and will better reflect progress in health sciences and medical practice. ICD-11 incorporates new diagnoses and conditions and will provide enhanced coding possibilities due to the way that codes can be grouped to give precise details.

The World Health Organization’s ICD-11 revision goals included the following:

  • To revise the ICD classification to completely and accurately reflect critical advances in science and medicine. ICD-11 will serve multiple purposes, including use for mortality and morbidity statistics, and clinical use in primary care, specialty care and research.
  • To serve as an international standard in multiple languages and multiple settings to allow for comparable data.
  • To integrate the classification with electronic health applications and information systems, such as standards and terminologies, and with other classifications. ICD-11 is fully electronic, making it easier to implement and use. This will result in fewer mistakes and will allow for more detailed clinical recording. The tool will be more accessible, especially to those who have limited resources.

Is ICD-11 available now?

The World Health Organization (WHO) released ICD-11 for Mortality and Morbidity Statistics on June 18, 2018. WHO is referring to this release as the ICD-11 implementation version. The purpose of the implementation version is to give countries and stakeholders a preview of the code structure and new content of ICD-11 to support them as they prepare for implementation.

The implementation version is available to the public online using Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge.

When will countries be able to adopt ICD-11 and transition to it?

On May 25, 2019, member states at the 72nd session of the World Health Assembly agreed to adopt ICD-11, to come into effect on January 1, 2022. Each member state will make its own decision about adoption and the timing of implementation.

It is important to note that no decision has been made regarding when ICD-11 will be implemented in Canada. CIHI is assessing the clinical, business and statistical implications of implementing the new version for morbidity statistics in Canada. The decision to adopt ICD-11 will not reside with CIHI. Provincial and territorial governments will decide whether and when to adopt and implement it.

What settings can ICD-11 support?

ICD-11 contains updated scientific content and was built to function in electronic environments. It has been designed to address the needs of a broad range of settings, such as morbidity, mortality, epidemiology, case mix, research, functioning and disability, and quality and safety. The World Health Organization has also worked with the World Organization of Family Doctors to fill gaps related to primary care and family medicine with ICD-11.

What resources accompany ICD-11?

There are a number of resources available for ICD-11.

World Health Organization (WHO) (available in English only):

ICD-11 home page

Classifications home page

WHO: The International Classification of Diseases (YouTube video)

WHO: Revision of ICD-11 — Questions and Answers (YouTube video)

ICD-11 Reference Guide

ICD-11 Coding Tool


CIHI created a high-level 3-part webinar series titled An Introduction to ICD-11. This series introduces ICD-11, including live demonstrations on how to use the classification. Recorded sessions of the webinar series and general ICD-11 information are available on the Codes and Classifications web page.

ICD-11 features

What is the ICD-11 foundation component?

The foundation component is a multidimensional collection of all ICD entities (diseases, disorders, injuries, external causes, signs and symptoms). It is a database from which concepts can be drawn into specific classifications (e.g., mortality, morbidity, primary care, research, functioning and disability, quality and safety) or country-specific modifications.

The foundation component also includes information on where and how a certain entity is represented in a tabular list, whether it becomes a grouping or a category with a stem code, or whether it is mentioned as an inclusion term in a particular category.

What is the difference between the ICD-11 Browser and the ICD-11 Coding Tool?

The ICD-11 Browser is an application that you can use to search the tabular list of ICD-11 Mortality and Morbidity Statistics, whereas the Coding Tool is an electronic index.

There are currently 2 different ICD-11 browsers available: the implementation package (blue browser) and the proposal platform (orange browser).

  • Countries can use the implementation package as they investigate and prepare for possible ICD-11 implementation.
  • The World Health Organization uses the proposal platform to update the classification. Approved updates to ICD-11 can be viewed in the proposal platform between releases. Countries should not use this content to investigate or prepare for implementation.

The ICD-11 Coding Tool is an electronic index that functions like a web-based search engine to find matches to your search term. With ICD-10-CA, you search the Folio application for conditions using lead terms and secondary terms. This is no longer required in ICD-11. You can search the Coding Tool by typing in a diagnostic statement as documented.

Can I copy a code from ICD-11?

Copying a code using the ICD-11 Coding Tool or the ICD-11 Integrated Browser is simple.

ICD-11 Coding Tool: There are 2 ways to copy a code to the clipboard after searching the Coding Tool:

  1. Using your mouse, click the code or the code title.
  2. Using your mouse, highlight the code and press Enter.

You can see the copied code in the Coding Tool view above the heading “Destination Entities.”

ICD-11 Integrated Browser: There are 2 ways to copy a code to the clipboard when reviewing details of a diagnostic concept in the ICD-11 Integrated Browser:

  1. Using your mouse, click the select icon located in the top-right corner of the page.
  2. Using your mouse, highlight the code to be copied and press Ctrl + C

Can I search for an ICD-11 code in the ICD-11 Coding Tool?

The ICD-11 Coding Tool does not support a code search. You must enter a diagnostic statement in the search box.


World Health Organization. Classifications. Accessed January 8, 2020.

World Health Organization. ICD-11 Coding Tool Help. Accessed January 7, 2020.

World Health Organization. ICD-11 — International Classification of Diseases 11th Revision. Accessed January 8, 2020.

World Health Organization. ICD-11 — Implementation or Transition Guide. 2019.

World Health Organization. ICD-11 Reference Guide. No date.

World Health Organization. World Health Assembly update, 25 May 2019 [media release]. May 25, 2019.


1. World Health Organization. ICD-11 Reference Guide. No date.