Health Affairs has an interesting recent article about coding for social determinants of health by Douglas Olson, et al, arguing that standardization of these efforts in the "Z Codes" of the ICD-10 will make tracking of such codes, patients, and data so much easier. The responses in the comments illustrate how diverse current attempts are at coding for social determinants of health.
But why do this? One comment makes it clear that it levels the ground on risk adjustment for safety net hospitals in readmissions, for example. A worthy concern? Yes. A patient foremost concern? Not really. And that's the double edge of coding. Is it about better patient outcomes or better provider bottom lines?