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.