How Soon Until the US Switches to ICD-11?

First comes love; then comes ICD-10; then comes ICD-11 in, uh, a baby carriage? If only transitioning from code set to code set were so romantic. Unfortunately for us, such is not the case. And in the coming decades, we’re more likely to encounter opposition than the prompt adoption of a fresh-like-a-baby code set—at least in the US. And though some might argue that the recent transition to ICD-10 doesn’t look a whole lot like love, we’re married to the code set now; so, how long until we’re “due” for a transition to ICD-11 (get it)? Here’s what we’ve heard so far:

ICD-10: Less Than Comprehensive

Many healthcare professionals anticipated that the ICD-10 code set would include and account for nearly every single diagnosis and procedure under the sun. And it does—well, almost. Despite ICD-10’s massive list of 69,823 diagnosis codes, this Practice Fusion article explains that “CMS is already issuing corrections and adding new codes to to the ICD-10 set. Just last week, CMS approved additional diagnosis codes that were missing from osteopenia and its ICD-10-CM codes in subcategory M85.8-Other specified disorders of bone density and structure.” If corrections like this one are happening this early in the game, surely we can expect additional updates and expansions as we move forward.

The World Health Organization: Working on It

So, if ICD-10 truly is out of date, when will ICD-11 go into effect and resolve these issues? The short answer: Who knows? Well actually, WHO (The World Health Organization) does know what’s in store for the future of ICD-11. That’s because WHO has been working on its implementation for years. Even this past fall, as providers across the US were adopting ICD-10, ICD-11 was already undergoing updates, testing, and peer review.

And as far as the immediate future is concerned, the WHO has released its plans to present ICD-11 to the World Health Assembly in May of 2018 for endorsement. But, ICD-11 isn’t expected to be a huge transition like the one we experienced with ICD-10. So, for the sake of improvement, maybe another change isn’t so bad, as this HealthcareDIVE article emphasizes: “the good news is the next iteration won’t be coming for awhile, and the change should be significantly less complex.”

ICD-11: The Timeline

In terms of an ICD-11 release timeline, the WHO has formed a plan for ICD-11 that spans from 2015 to 2018. Here’s what’s in store for the next few years, as adapted from this document:

Testing and Peer Review Process

  • January to March 2016: Executive Board update with ICD-10 review
  • April to June 2016: World Health Assembly (WHA) update, including revision process and ICD-10 review
  • September 2016: Revisions conference (hosted in Japan)
  • October to December 2016: Consolidation period with testing and peer review

Testing Strategy and Updates

  • January to March 2017: ICD-11 full testing strategy begins
  • April to June 2017: World Health Assembly update, including revision process and strategies for ICD-10 improvement; testing continues
  • July to September 2017: Full testing strategy finalized

Endorsement Process

  • September to October  2017: Full report on ICD-11 process released; future management approach and endorsement of final products prepared for Executive Board approval
  • November to December 2017: WHO endorses final products and future management approach; WHO readies health information development strategy to present at WHA
  • January to May 2018: Endorsement of final products, future management, and health information strategy
  • May 2018: WHA includes a full report on ICD-11 and endorsement of final products, future management, and health information development strategy


Like I said before, there’s a lot for the WHO to accomplish before 2018. But, even if all of these plans come to fruition, it’ll likely be at least a decade before the US adopts ICD-11. And that means that—just like we had time to adjust to the idea of ICD-10—we still have some time to fall in love with ICD-11. You know—before the wedding bells start ringing (again).