Physicians failing to track social determinants of health in Medicare patients, study says

A study from NORC at the University of Chicago revealed that just over 1 percent of Medicare beneficiaries had their social needs tracked in 2018 healthcare claims.

The study's architects claim that because physicians are not incentivized to use Z codes, which are meant to be used in claims to note nonmedical factors influencing patients' health, few opt to track them for patients, according to the study.

The researchers recommended implementing policies that expand reimbursement for tracking these social needs, therefore increasing the percentage of Medicare beneficiaries' social needs being tracked.

However, some Medicare beneficiaries were more likely to have their social needs tracked, including dual-eligible beneficiaries and people of color.

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