ICPC-2 PLUS: origin and current uses

Origin of ICPC-2 PLUS

ICPC, first released in 1987, was designed for the classification of patients' reasons for encounter, health problems and processes of care in paper-based records. With the increasing use of computerised medical records in the 1990s the former Family Medicine Research Centre (FMRC) recognised the need for an acceptable and usable terminology for general practice computerised clinical systems. The FMRC designed an Australian general practice terminology, classified to ICPC, based on terms recorded in over one million general practice encounter records. The terminology was released in 1995 and called ICPC PLUS.

The second edition, ICPC-2 PLUS, was released in 1998 in line with the international update of ICPC (ICPC-1) to ICPC-2. ICPC-2 PLUS is updated approximately three times per year to incorporate user feedback and suggestions for new content.

Current uses of ICPC-2 PLUS (BEACH coding system)

General Practice - clinical

ICPC-2 PLUS is being used in electronic health records by general practitioners in a mix of both rural and urban settings ranging from solo to very large practices.

ICPC-2 PLUS is also currently implemented across a number of primary health care settings including software packages used by general practitioners, Aboriginal Medical Services, prisoner health community health and allied health.

General Practice - research

ICPC-2 PLUS is the terminology used for patient reasons for encounter and problems managed in the Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health (BEACH) national data collection program of Australian general practice (100,000 records per year since April 1998). Its use ensures that users of BEACH data access far more detailed data labels than have been available in ICPC-2.
ICPC-2 PLUS is used in a variety of small research projects, and has been used in various coordinated care/after hours trials in Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Victoria and Tasmania and the large scale national blood pressure study, ANBP2.


ICPC-2 PLUS is currently installed in approximately 12 finished product clinical systems/prescribing packages, including those supplied by Communicare, Genie Solutions, isoft, Medtech32, Stat Health and Zedmed.

Statistical collections

ICPC-2 PLUS is being used by the Australian Bureau of Statistics to code self reported health data collected in the National Health Survey and in the National Drug and Alcohol Survey.

Aboriginal Health

ICPC-2 PLUS is used to code and classify health information by various Aboriginal Medical Services around Australia.

Relationships to other systems/classifications

ICPC-2 PLUS is included in the Unified Medical Language system (UMLS). The inclusion of ICPC-2 PLUS into the UMLS provides the basis on which to complete a two way semantic match between ICPC-2 PLUS terms and concepts in other classifications and terminologies in the UMLS.

ICPC-2 PLUS is classified to ICD-10AM and is being mapped to SNOMED-CT.