New world classification of interventions must take account of physical therapy, says WCPT

Physical therapist involvement in a new World Health Organization-backed classification of health interventions is essential, according to Catherine Sykes, WCPT’s Professional Policy Consultant.

With WCPT, she is contributing to the development of the new International Classification of Health Interventions (ICHI), currently in early trialling phases and due to be completed in 2017.

ICHI is being developed under the auspices of WHO as part of its family of classifications. The aim is to provide governments, service providers and researchers with a common tool for reporting and analysing health interventions for statistical purposes.

WCPT has been consulted on the new classification and Catherine Sykes is representing WCPT as part of a small multidisciplinary development group. Other physical therapists have also been invited to comment on the emerging classification. Broader consultation and pilot testing will occur later in the year. 

“Interventions classification is important for physical therapists, because if they don’t have the means to define their interventions, then they can't be measured and they won't be counted,” says Catherine Sykes. “And if what you do is not counted then it is not recognised as valuable and funded. We already know that rehabilitation, primary and preventive services are less well-resourced than medical, surgical and diagnostic interventions.”

She has been invited to speak on the classification at the forthcoming congress of the International Society for Physical Rehabilitation Medicine in Mexico in June. She is also the author of two commentaries on health intervention classifications – one published in Physical Therapy and the other in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

The articles address the relationship between ICHI, and a proposed Rehabilitation Treatment Taxonomy (RTT) – a more detailed definition of interventions for describing the clinical practice of rehabilitation. The RTT is being developed by a multidisciplinary team supported in part by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research in the United States.

In the invited commentary in Physical Therapy, Catherine Sykes congratulated the team working on the new taxonomy, saying that it had some common aims with ICHI. “It would be desirable if the ICHI could provide the ‘backbone’ for the more finely grained RTT,” she wrote.

If you are interested in pilot testing the proposed ICHI, please contact Catherine Sykes [email protected]

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