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Focus on Health Equity and Action

Social Determinants of Health: The WHO’s Greatest ICD-10 Hits for Fiscal Year 2022


by Maria Bruton, ; Alicia Cohen, MD, MSc ; Dina Hooshyar, MD, MPH
Seminar date: 3/9/2022

Description: The International Classification of Diseases (ICD) traces its origins back to the 18th century. It is a globally used tool that supports the systematic recording, analysis, interpretation, and comparison of mortality and morbidity data. The clinician-coder process generates these ICD codes that are then used by epidemiology, health management, and clinical purposes to understand people’s health and direct appropriate interventions. Although social determinants of health have a major impact on people’s health, well-being, and quality of life, ICD, Tenth Revision (ICD-10) and previous ICD versions had not recognized social determinants of health as the primary driver for people’s health conditions. Starting in Fiscal Year 2022, ICD-10 permits social determinants of health to be coded as the primary diagnosis for outpatient visits. Successful implementation of this revolutionary change in coding guidance will require retraining of clinicians and coders to more robustly capture the impact that social determinants of health have on people’s health.

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