eHI Promotes Codes for SDOH

The eHealth Initiative & Foundation (eHI) has released a set of tools to help promote the use of ICD-10-CM Z codes to capture Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) data. The ICD-10-CM coding is a system used by clinicians to classify and record all diagnoses and symptoms for care within the U.S.

The ICD-10-CM codes include a category called Z codes which are used to describe experiences, circumstances, or problems that affect patient health but are not considered a specific disease or injury. Z codes identify patients facing socioeconomic and psychosocial circumstances that may influence their health status and contact with health services.

This collaborative project, consisting of industry leaders from payer organizations and other stakeholder groups, wanted to develop a consistent and unified approach to promote the use of existing ICD-10CM codes for SDOH, and the adoption and utilization of proposed SDOH codes, once approved among provider organizations and coding professionals.

According to Jennifer Covich Bordenick, CEO, eHealth Initiative & Foundation, “By integrating SDOH insights into care plans, healthcare stakeholders will be able to recognize the need and enable access to additional services or interventions for patients. ICD-10-CM Z codes can be used to record information directly into patient records, which will offer deeper insights into factors such as reliable housing, healthy food, and transportation also affecting health.

“Using the Z codes for social determinants of health helps hospitals and health systems better track patient needs and identify solution to improve the health of their communities. The use of SDOH data from EHRs for clinical, operational, and research purposes can facilitate tracking, identifying, and obtaining referrals to social and governmental services” reports, Nelly Leon-Chisen, RHIA, Director, Coding and Classification, at the American Hospital Association.

The ICD-10-CM Z set of code tools were launched in conjunction with a Webinar featuring panelists from United HealthCare, Humana, and the American Hospital Association. All four tools are available on EHI’s website as well as addition information on SDOH.

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