There has been a newfound effort to highlight and address the disparity in health outcomes for patients who belong to one or more marginalized communities. Opportunities for health and wellness are dictated by social, economic, environmental, and systemic factors, not by factors that are inherently genetic or physiologic. This means that the color of one’s skin, what ZIP code they are born and live in, the education they receive, the food and housing they have access to, and the jobs they hold are the primary drivers of one’s wellness and health outcomes.
It stands to reason that anything that further exacerbates the chasm of economic and systemic opportunity will result in additional hurdles to achieving health equity. This creates a tremendous opportunity to apply the lens of health equity to the numerous strategic imperatives a healthcare delivery organization is already prioritizing. We can still implement initiatives that address the foundational stability of health systems, and the opportunities for innovation and evolution of care, while also accounting for the often-unintended consequences they may have. Rather than silo health equity as a clinical issue, it should be woven into the fabric of all work that has the potential to impact our patients from an environmental or economic standpoint. Given the direct impact ransomware and data breaches can have on the physical, mental, and emotional health of our patients, for example, we would be remiss to exclude cyberattacks from the ways we view opportunities and challenges to address the root causes of health disparities.