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JKM > Volume 41(3); 2020 > Article
Kim, Kim, Cho, and Han: Exploring the Ways to Apply Korean Traditional Medical Practices to the International Classification of Health Interventions through Focus Group Discussion



This study was aimed to present the experts’ opinions for the successful application of Korean traditional medical practices (KTMPs) to the International Classification of Health Intervention (ICHI).


Two doctors of Korean Medicine and two health information managers who had tried coding 131 KTMPs using ICHI participated in the focus group discussion. The remarks from the discussion were summarized according to the thematic analysis method.


The participants expected ICHI to be mainly used for statistics when applied to TKMPs. It can be used for payment systems as well, but it was expected that additional work would be required. They thought the current version of the ICHI did not sufficiently reflect the KMTPs of the real world, and even the interventions already included in the ICHI were not explained enough in the system. They thought it would not be easy to explain more KTMPs within the current structure of the ICHI, but they also said it seemed possible. In the process, rather than adding entirely new stem codes, it would be better to generate new combinations of the existing codes, to suppose subdivided codes, and to utilize the include terms or extension codes.


For the successful introduction of ICHI, clarifying the definition of each intervention of KTMPs is a top priority. In addition, it is necessary to continue the matching work of ICHI - KMPTs and also required to make this effort together with the field of traditional medicine and complementary medicine worldwide.

Fig. 1
Study participants’ selection process ICHI, International Classification of Health Interventions; WHO, World Health Organization; KTMP, Korean traditional medical practices; KOSTAT, Statistics Korea
Fig. 2
Data collection process
Fig. 3
Data analysis process
Fig. 4
Suggestions to include more interventions in the International Classification of Health Intervention KM, Korean medicine; ICHI, International Classification of Health Interventions
Table 1
Characteristics of Participants
Participant code Profession Field experience (year)
K1 Doctor of Korean Medicine 12
K2 Doctor of Korean Medicine 27
H1 Health Information Manager 25
H2 Health Information Manager 3
Table 2
Themes Identified during the Discussion.
Themes Sub-themes Results summary Participants

K1 K2 H1 H2
Purpose of using the ICHI Purpose of using ICHI in KM Statistical purposes
Use in payment system

Evaluation of the current system -Ease of search Difficult
-Degree of completeness of the KM codes Poor
-Degree of real reflection of the KM codes Poor
-Mutual exclusivity among the KM codes Good for now
-Compatibility with other classifications ICD, ICF Compatible
EDI Requires extra work

Expandibility of the system -Appropriateness of 3-axis structure Difficult to express, but not impossible to code within the present system
-Comprehensiveness of the current system Limited
-Possibility to include KM practices not yet included Difficult, but possible

Proposal of methods to cover KM practices in the system -Generating new combinations using existing T, A, and M codes
-Adding new codes
-Segmentation of codes
-Adding inclusion terms or extension codes
-Using traditional medicine tags

Future tasks -Clarification of KM practice definition
-Continuation of matching between ICHI and KM practices
-Linkage with world traditional medicine and complementary alternative medicine


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