Can We Protect Patient Health Information Amidst Handling Social Determinants Of Health? | Dr. Adam Tabriz

Traditional Means of Protecting Health Information Is No Longer Sufficient, Particularly If We Intend To Extend Health Equity to Everyone.

Illumination initially publicized this article on Medium!

Photo byDirk Wouters from Pixabay

Health equity has been among the crucial topics of discussion among healthcare leaders for decades. That is merely because making all the quality health amenities available is essential to keep people healthy and drive down healthcare costs in the long run.

But, establishing health equity is a challenging task. Even for the wealthy and developed countries that can afford to invest in promoting health equity, it by far requires a robust logistic infrastructure.

Amongst the sundry challenges healthcare leaders must endure, achieving health equity is particularly important. That is dealing with and addressing social determinants of health.

Social drivers or determinants of health are a series of environmental conditions surrounding every citizen. Those prerequisites include living conditions, educational resources, work environments, and children’s playgrounds.

How we live and care for ourselves day in and day out directly and indirectly affects our health. Therefore, addressing social determinants of health within every individual’s particular conditions and preference is imperative.

Addressing social determinants of health by eliminating risks such as poverty, access to medical information and resources, and easy access to the point of care is fundamental to achieving health equity.

Tackling Social Drivers Of Health Is A Resource Intensive Undertaking, Yet A Risky Course

Guaranteeing health equity necessitates liberal access to and sharing of patient health information. For instance, to help an individual to receive food stamps, financial assistance to receive medical care, or buy necessary medication, the receiver of the aid must sign a consent (not typically by choice) to provide access to a multitude of their private information.

Access to information can be anything within and beyond social determinants of health, including private financial, medical, behavioral, and social data. Furthermore, staff and volunteers at hundreds of other organizations will access that information by giving a single consent behind the scene. Indeed, that is happening in almost every community as we speak.

Resources needed for health equity and addressing social determinants of health also demand connecting resources from various people, organizations, and entities. It also requires healthcare entities to partner with non-healthcare systems within the communities to address existing and impending adverse social determinants of health. Such a partnership, for instance, can be a collaborative network of organizations that provide a bedrock society safety net for food, housing, transportation, utilities, and substance abuse treatment.

Establishing health equity under traditional infrastructure requires labor intensive and financial burden of its own. Furthermore, as we witness today, the open source approach to tackling patient information must ensure secure proper legal and ethical limits.

Health Information Exchange, Health Equity, and Social Drivers of Health

The entire information exchange process is in line with the rules set by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). Although there is a truth, those rules do not apply to many social care organizations and non-medical entities. That must change, yet more is needed to alleviate risks.

Indeed, the core of the problem associated with public health information vulnerability today is central to the nature of data storage, workflow insecurity, and lack of a hybrid work model.

To achieve health equity, healthcare leaders must access, share and process vast amounts of health data with many 3rd party organizations. Still, they can only accomplish that by eliminating the deleterious spinoffs.

Social and individual determinants of health are a series of personal stories that carry potential abuse in the wrong hands.

Over the past decades, the advancement of cyber technology and big data has blown up the fiercely competitive market, causing many companies to shift from their transparent tactical missions to place more emphasis on the financial success of their institution. Such entities don’t shy away from mauling the social determinants of health while achieving their tactical mission, health equity.

Data Ownership, Transparency, And Sharing Social Determinants Of Health

Without a doubt, HIPAA regulation is utterly outdated for health information management. Besides the outdated rules around health information security, a growing number of data inputs from various digital innovations and medical devices has riddled our healthcare system. That, by itself, amplifies the entry point for the 3rd party organizations.

Furthermore, the need for more investment in robust infrastructure that offers gatekeeping functionality while maintaining transparency makes managing the social determinant of health more treacherous.

Individual ownership of health information is inevitable but will not happen without resistance. There is big money in the big data industry, and those entities have no incentive to give it up! , Adam Tabriz, MD

It should never come as a surprise if some organizations and corporations downplay the importance of health information security issues, as it is strategically to their concession.

The Solution To The Abuse Of Social Drivers Of Health Is In The Logistics

Imagine we have a system where everything is transparent, interactive, and gated every step of the way, where individual data owners control their “personal” data, including social determinants of health. That is a network that proposes a collaborative milieu for all players in the healthcare system (including those participating in addressing social determinants of health).

The spoken network allows all players and sensors (devices) to plug in, connect, and disconnect anytime from anywhere. While connected, one can share, exchange, and authorize the social determinants of health and all other private information by using the so-called “smart contract“System of authorization.

A “smart contract” system has pre-designed program criteria stored in a decentralized ledger or blockchain. Using the latter technique, patients, the owners of the information, share their social determinants of health based on the preset permissions criteria.

Automating data sharing upon consent execution will ascertain all participants of the patient care without any middle-person involvement or time waste.

The outlined solution is the epitome of a “Cyber-Physical Human System(CPHS) that is difficult to abuse, at least not openly and without accountability.


  1. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) | CDC. “Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) | CDC,” June 27, 2022.
  2. TABRIZ, DA “Is Health Equity Achievable?!. As Healthcare Administrations Worldwide… | by Dr. ADAM TABRIZ | ILLUMINATION | Medium.” Medium, July 4, 2022.———0—————– ———–.
  3. TABRIZ, DA “The Socioeconomic Impact of the Social Drivers of Health | ILLUMINATION-Curated.” Medium, July 15, 2022.———2—– ————————-.
  4. TABRIZ, DA “The 3rd Party Payers and Cost Control | ILLUMINATION-Curated.” Medium, September 21, 2021.———1——— ——————–.
  5. To install The Hill. “Privacy Is Being Ignored as Lines Blur Between Health Care and Social Care | The Hill,” August 26, 2022.
  6. To install Demigods. “13 Ways to Prevent Data Breaches in Healthcare.” Accessed September 6, 2022.
  7. TABRIZ, DA “Data Science, Medicine; Tactics vs. Strategy: The Commencement of Unclaimed Domain | by Dr. ADAM TABRIZ | DataDrivenInvestor.” Medium, June 23, 2022.
  8. TABRIZ, DA “Decentralization in Healthcare Is beyond Data Security and Ownership | by Dr. ADAM TABRIZ | ILLUMINATION-Curated | Medium.” Medium, December 6, 2021.
  9. TABRIZ, DA “Reasons Why You Should Be Managing Your Own Health Data | by Dr. ADAM TABRIZ | Technology Hits | Medium.” Medium, May 28, 2022.
  10. What are smart contracts on the blockchain? , IBM. “What Are Smart Contracts on Blockchain? | IBM.” Accessed September 6, 2022.

Every Medical Practice Will Eventually Need A Data Scientist
A Closer Look At Why Quality And Value-Based Data Analytics Is Becoming Beyond Crucial Today, To Keep Medical Practices Thriving.

Medical Practices Are Boosting Wages To Maintain Their Workforce, But Is It Sustainable!?

Quantum computing in medical practice
Application Of Quantum Computing In Personalizing Healthcare Delivery

Leave a Comment