Hospitals and health systems are working to address their patients’ social needs and the broader social determinants of health in the communities they serve. This includes societal and environmental conditions such as food, housing, transportation, education, violence, social support, health behaviors and employment. 

A standardized approach to screening for and coding social needs is critical to our success. The data allows us to personalize care to address patients’ medical and social needs; determine how to focus a social determinants strategy; and identify population health trends.

One tool available for hospitals and health systems to capture data on the social needs of their patient population is the ICD-10-CM codes included in categories Z55-Z65 – better known as social determinants of health “Z codes.” 

Despite their usefulness, Z code adoption by hospitals has been limited. In fact, a recent Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services study found that Z codes are only being used for 1.4% of Medicare fee-for-service patients. 

AHA’s The Value Initiative offers a number of resources, including podcasts and webinars to assist caregivers with implementing and expanding the use of Z codes. 
Hospital leaders can prioritize the importance of documenting and coding patients’ social needs and educate key stakeholders, including physicians, non-physician health care providers and coding professionals, to increase their adoption and help improve the health and well-being of patients and communities. 
 

Related News Articles

Headline
AHA’s The Value Initiative is providing new resources to support hospitals’ and health systems’ efforts to adopt team-based care for patients with an acute or…
Headline
The Value Rounds Podcast Series: Working toward Value Together, produced by AHA’s The Value Initiative and Physician Alliance, explores how hospital leaders…
Perspective
This morning, like most mornings, I looked at a picture outside of my office that was taken on Sept. 11, 2001. The picture shows doctors, nurses,…
Headline
If you missed the Aug. 27 livestream, you can watch a replay of the latest episode of Leadership Rounds – short conversations on a range of key issues AHA…
Perspective
A century ago, nominating a presidential ticket during political conventions was an arduous marathon. The Democrats opened their convention with 14 names in…
Headline
AHA Board Chair Melinda Estes, M.D., will be joined by Rachelle Schultz, president and CEO of Winona Health, for the next in a series of Leadership Rounds —…