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Why UnitedHealthcare wants to expand diagnostic codes to the social determinants of health

February 11, 2019 / Paige Minemyer

UnitedHealthcare wants to see diagnostic codes for services targeting the social determinants of health—such as transportation or healthy meals—expand nationwide. In an interview with FierceHealthcare, Sheila Shapiro, senior vice president for national strategic partnerships in UHC's clinical services team, said that one of the key barriers to expanding access to nonmedical care for social needs is a lack of coding standardization. So the insurer has begun to roll out new ICD-10 codes that providers can use to document these needs. Adding new code options ensures that social services are tracked effectively and patients actually receive them, while also avoiding additional administrative work for physicians, Shapiro said.