Health care providers used Z codes to document social determinants of health for 467,136 Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries in 2017, according to a new report by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. That’s 5% more beneficiaries than in 2016, when the codes became available to document SDOHs as part of the new ICD-10-CM coding system for health care claims, but only 1.4% of Medicare FFS beneficiaries, the report notes. The most used Z codes were those for homelessness; problems related to living alone; disappearance and death of family member; other specified problems related to psychosocial circumstances; and problems in relationship with a spouse or partner. “SDOH data collection can lead to an increase in patient referrals to supportive services, and help identify population-level trends that have both health and cost implications,” the report notes. For more on using Z codes, see the AHA’s new resource on ICD-10-CM Coding for Social Determinants of Health .

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