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Alpha-ID - an identification number for diagnoses

Alpha-ID permits the encoding of medical and natural language diagnostic terms. Published in 2005 by DIMDI as a prototype, Alpha-ID is based on the Alphabetical Index of ICD-10-GM. Each alphabetical entry is allocated a sequential and stable identification number: the Alpha-ID code. It provides a unique identification for each entry and thus assumes the function of a non-classifying diagnostic code.

Alpha-ID  is available as electronic version (TXT (CSV)) and is updated annually. The currently valid version is effective from the beginning until the end of a calendar year. In the case of corrections during this period of validity you will be informed by our Newsletter DIMDI News

Differentiated diagnostic codes for medical documentation

Classification always entails a loss of detailed information: for example, the ICD-10 classification combines all synonymous terms for a particular disease as well as similar diseases within the same class under a single code. ICD codes are thus not sufficiently differentiated to be used in documentation for therapeutic purposes. By contrast, Alpha-ID allows all synonymous terms and each individual name for a disorder from the alphabetical index as a separate identifier. Each entry has its own Alpha-ID code - an individual, utterly unique, non-classifying identification number.

Example: There are 28 entries in the Alphabetical Index for the ICD-10-GM code "L30.8  Sonstige näher bezeichnete Dermatitis"(Other specified dermatitis), all encoded as L30.8. In Alpha-ID, each of these entries is given its own Alpha-ID code as in the following four entries:

Alpha-ID-Code ICD-10-GM-Code Entry
I6158 L30.8 Ichthyosiformes Ekzem
I6159 L30.8 Nässendes Ekzem
I6154 L30.8 Nässender Nabel
I6142 L30.8 Trockenes Ekzem

The Alpha-ID represents the complete information of the respective entry, but is easier to exchange in electronic communication than non-standardised uncoded text. In that way, it provides diagnostic codes for more than 75,000 differentiated diagnostic terms, each of which is also assigned the appropriate ICD-10-GM code.

Alpha-ID versus Alphabetical Index

In contrast to the Alphabetical Index of ICD-10-GM, the Alpha-ID is cumulative: Entries deleted as part of ICD-10-GM database maintenance are retained in Alpha-ID with the appropriate designation. The current version of Alpha-ID can thus also be used to decode identification numbers that refer to previous entries.

In contrast with the ICD-10-GM codes, Alpha-ID identification numbers are stable. In Alpha-ID, each entry has two codes: the unique identification number and the associated ICD code. New insights in medicine or restructuring of the ICD-10-GM database can result in changes to the ICD code for a particular entry. By contrast, an Alpha-ID, once assigned, remains linked to its entry unchanged forever.


Interoperability is defined as the ability of different systems to successfully communicate with each other. This requires standardisation. The increasing level of electronic communication in the health care sector (keyword: eHealth) requires diagnostic codes for therapeutic use that are understood by all participating systems. Alpha-ID permits nationwide standardised diagnostic encoding for electronic communication across all of Germany.

Alpha-ID proposal procedure

The Alpha-ID is subject to ongoing development. At present, it is annually adapted to changes in the Alphabetical Index resulting from the proposal procedure for ICD-10-GM. In addition, you have the opportunity continuously to improve Alpha-ID with suggestions of your own. Please submit suggestions for Alpha-ID during the proposal procedure for ICD-10-GM (always from December to the end of February) in an informal e-mail to classifications.

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