ICD-10 ‘Z Codes’: A Standardized Approach to SDoH Data

Mar 1, 2019

Use of standardized coding like ICD-10 ‘Z-codes’ within Electronic Health Records offers a simple way to aggregate and analyze social determinants of health (SDoH) data across health centers, providers and payers.  As outlined by the Health Information Technology, Evaluation & Quality Center (HITEQ), using this type of standardized approach to SDoH data is critical to:

  • Meet the essential needs of patients by offering the right services and referrals
  • Match program scope and staffing to the underlying medical and social complexity of the population
  • Identify population health-related trends that may be tackled through community partnerships
  • Support policy or payment reforms that appropriately value essential needs initiatives
  • Enable system-wide research to better understand what works and what doesn’t

This helpful one-pager from HITEQ compiles Z-codes that are a close match to questions in the PRAPARE toolkit — an essential needs screening tool from the National Association of Community Health Centers that is among several that have seen widespread adoption in recent years. While codes do not yet exist for all possible responses to these screening tools’ core questions, using a standardized dataset within a health system’s Electronic Health Records can help to advance key goals like those outlined above.


Download the SDoH Z-Code Chart


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