The eHealth Initiative & Foundation (eHI) recently released a set of tools to help promote the use of ICD-10-CM Z codes in capturing social determinants of health (SDOH) data. As the transition from volume to value accelerates, having a unified approach to funding social care gaps is imperative to ensure hospitals and health systems can track needs, identify community-based solutions, and improve the health of their communities.
However, it’s important to recognize that SDOH is not a new concept. In fact, community-based organizations, social workers, community health workers, and government agencies have been addressing these issues for decades. As the healthcare industry begins to take a greater role in recognizing the value that preventative SDOH interventions have on improved health outcomes and cost control, it’s not just important - but imperative - that social service providers have an active role in determining appropriate funding models for these vital services.
Below is a statement from Signify Community President Jamo Rubin, M.D., in response to the eHI release:
“The eHealth Initiative’s efforts represent an important acknowledgement of the need to transition clinical dollars to social services. For value-based care to be successful, addressing – and importantly funding – social determinants of health (SDOH) is a requirement. However, there are important limitations and challenges to consider as we move forward. First, Z codes are notoriously general, only diagnostic and clinically oriented. Second, SDOH is not a clinical problem, it’s a social problem; we risk medicalizing SDOH if we look at it solely through a healthcare lens. Our social services partners must be at the table as we work through funding. With anything this new and innovative, the tried and true mantra is start small, move quickly and learn from mistakes. For SDOH, that means prioritize what social services we want to pay for, learn how to do it and iterate. It’s imperative that we get this right.”