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Strengthening Rehabilitation in Health Systems Worldwide by Integrating Information on Functioning in National Health Information Systems

Stucki, Gerold MD, MS; Bickenbach, Jerome LLB, PhD; Melvin, John MD

American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation: September 2017 - Volume 96 - Issue 9 - p 677–681
doi: 10.1097/PHM.0000000000000688

A complete understanding of the experience of health requires information relevant not merely to the health indicators of mortality and morbidity but also to functioning—that is, information about what it means to live in a health state, “the lived experience of health.” Not only is functioning information relevant to healthcare and the overall objectives of person-centered healthcare but to the successful operation of all components of health systems.

In light of population aging and major epidemiological trends, the health strategy of rehabilitation, whose aim has always been to optimize functioning and minimize disability, will become a key health strategy. The increasing prominence of the rehabilitative strategy within the health system drives the argument for the integration of functioning information as an essential component in national health information systems.

Rehabilitation professionals and researchers have long recognized in WHO’s International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health the best prospect for an internationally recognized, sufficiently complete and powerful information reference for the documentation of functioning information. This paper opens the discussion of the promise of integrating the ICF as an essential component in national health systems to secure access to functioning information for rehabilitation, across health systems and countries.

From the University of Lucerne, Lucerne, Switzerland (GS, JB); Swiss Paraplegic Research, Nottwil, Switzerland (GS, JB, JM); ICF Research Branch, a cooperation partner within the WHO Collaborating Centre for the Family of International Classifications in Germany (at DIMDI), Nottwil, Switzerland (GS, JB); and Sidney Kimmel Medical College, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (JM).

All correspondence and requests for reprints should be addressed to: Gerold Stucki, MD, MS, Swiss Paraplegic Research, Guido A. Zäch Strasse 4, 6207 Nottwil, Switzerland.

Financial disclosure statements have been obtained, and no conflicts of interest have been reported by the authors or by any individuals in control of the content of this article.

Copyright © 2017 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.