Compared to some other aspects of healthcare, social determinants of health, oftentimes abbreviated as simply SDoH, do not always get the same focus and attention despite their importance. These factors describe the non-medical aspects that affect a person’s health, including socioeconomic status, living conditions, and even the family environment they were raised in. Recording these social determinants of health is critical, as they can affect length of the patient’s stay, readmission rate, and overall cost of treatment.

With this in mind, the American Hospital Association recently made an update designed to make reporting these factors easier. As of February, the rules have been changed to allow for any caregiver to report social determinants of health. This includes not just licensed physicians or other providers, but case managers and social workers as well. With the testimony from these new sources, coders should find it easier than ever before to assign the proper codes.

If fact, there are are 88 different ICD-10 codes between Z55 and Z65, all of which refer to social determinants of health. This range includes some broad descriptions, such as homelessness and low income, as well as several specific codes, such as those for poor literacy, personal history of abuse, and even parental overprotection.

Now that so many sources of SDoH information are available, experts recommend that coders use these Z codes as often as possible in order to give researchers a better idea of how often they appear. The more often certain social determinants of health appear in a specific area, the easier it will be for practices and facilities alike to provide care that is better tailored to the surrounding populace. In addition, this reporting will play a role in how facilities are reimbursed, so reporting the proper SDoH is critical to ensuring that your workplace receives the money it deserves.