Henry Ford Health System, Michigan State Partner to Improve Access, Outcomes and Address Health Inequities, Disparities

January 25, 2021

DETROIT – Henry Ford Health System and Michigan State University (MSU), two of the state’s leading education, research and health care institutions, are partnering to make Michigan a national leader in providing access to exceptional health care for all residents, scientific discovery and education for providers, patients and families.

In a landmark partnership that will last for at least 30 years, both institutions are committed to aligning efforts across key departments and programs to achieve critical health care and educational goals, while addressing social issues that impact health outcomes for patients in Michigan and beyond.

The signing of this agreement comes just seven months after Henry Ford and MSU signed a letter of intent to significantly expand their long-term partnership, among the first of its kind for the region between a fully integrated academic health system and major state university.

Key features of the agreement include fostering innovative, groundbreaking research; providing best-in-class cancer care; interprofessional training; increasing diversity among the next generation of health care professionals; and addressing the needs of traditionally underserved communities. Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) are core components of the partnership and are embedded throughout the agreement in a commitment to addressing access to health care and health disparities in both urban and rural communities. For more information about the partnership, visit www.henryford.com/campaign/hfmsu.

“Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Henry Ford Health System and Michigan State University recognized that collaboration could make a critical impact on health care in our state and across the country,” said Wright L. Lassiter, president and CEO of Henry Ford Health System. “Our two institutions have a shared commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, which means addressing and eliminating historic inequities in health care across our state. If we bring additional focus to traditionally marginalized communities, we believe that will lead to improved clinical outcomes for all.”

“We believe there is an opportunity to create progressive education models rooted in early collaboration across disciplines, such as primary care, nursing and public health, that will prepare students for the integrated care models demanded in practice today and in the future,” said Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D., president, Michigan State University. “These new approaches will support academic and clinical partnerships and will serve as a model for academic training and research across the nation. Moreover, this collaboration vastly expands opportunities for students beyond those seeking careers in health professions. Specifically, MSU attracts top students pursuing degrees in business, agriculture, social sciences, humanities, physics, computer sciences and beyond, committed to improving the human condition. Moving the dial on society's most intractable health challenges requires the broadest of expertise, the education of whom is the purpose for a land grant institution like MSU. The scale of Henry Ford Health System provides innumerable venues for collaboration and innovation.”

MSU will expand its presence in Detroit through the development of a regional campus, located within the existing Henry Ford Detroit Campus footprint. The institutions will create a new Health Sciences Center (HSC) that tightly aligns basic and translational research, fueling innovation and discovery through an academically and clinically integrated network of health care providers, scientists, academicians and public health practitioners.

A new urban-based public health program is planned to focus on education and research, as well as provide a platform to collaborate with other institutions. With the planned expansion of their combined research enterprise, Henry Ford and MSU are developing a joint research institute, the Health Sciences Center, dedicated to research and academic activities.

“Our research programs will seek to engage underrepresented communities in meaningful ways to identify potential interventions and reduce or eliminate health care disparities,” said Dr. Steven Kalkanis, M.D., chief executive officer and senior vice president and chief academic officer of Henry Ford Health System.

Alignment between a top academic institution and a leading integrated health system will accelerate the recruitment and retention of top clinical and academic talent, which is essential for advancing research, providing superior patient care and educating the next generation of premier health care professionals.

“It is in the full integration of research, education, health and health care that the necessary transformation of care can happen. Intolerable struggle persists, and we can, and must, respond with a sense of urgency,” added Norman J. Beauchamp Jr., M.D., executive vice president for Health Sciences at Michigan State University. “Aligned and accessible, we provide an environment that will attract and enable all those seeking to educate, discover or practice in ways that maximize their ability, individually and as a part of a team, to bring hope, health and healing to all. The resultant diversity of thought and inclusivity of individuals will lead to solutions that are responsive and enduring.”

With the MSU partnership, the Henry Ford Cancer Institute will expand research and clinical applications to create an international destination for access to the most advanced cancer therapies and research. With its focus on innovative cancer treatments, prevention and screening protocols, the institute will offer vast improvements in population health, fuel discovery in basic sciences, support translational research aimed at curing cancer and close the gap in health care outcomes for cancer patients based on race, ethnicity, gender and socioeconomic status.

“Our goal is a National Cancer Institute (NCI) designation within five to seven years, making us one of three institutions in Michigan recognized by the federal government for cutting-edge research and innovative cancer treatments,” said Dr. Adnan Munkarah, M.D., executive vice president and chief clinical officer of Henry Ford Health System. “We are coordinating our clinical activities so that we can expand our scope of services and access to care while improving the quality and efficiency of the patient experience across specialties and geography.”

Diversity, equity and inclusion are foundational to Henry Ford and MSU’s partnership and are articulated in key goals and deliverables that seek to eliminate health disparities, address the social determinants of health, and remove barriers to care and opportunity for medical education. This includes a commitment to educate diverse health care providers and ensure equitable access to quality health care for historically disenfranchised and marginalized populations.

“Since the beginning of this pandemic, COVID-19 has shined a light on the health, economic, and educational challenges that Black communities, and most communities of color, face daily. While the state has made significant progress toward our goal of reducing COVID-19 disparities for communities of color, we have more work to do. We are thrilled to have partners like Michigan State University and Henry Ford Health System that share our goals,” said Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II. "We must support and elevate health care systems and organizations that focus on diversity, equity and inclusion. This agreement prioritizes addressing social and societal issues that impact patients' health outcomes in our state and is a positive step toward addressing biases and obstacles that Michiganders face when interacting with our health care systems."

“Henry Ford Health System and Michigan State University are partnering at a critical time,” said U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow. “Both institutions are at the forefront of cutting-edge medical research, education and patient care. I am confident that this partnership will mean even greater innovation and access to quality health care for Michigan residents.”

This partnership is not an acquisition or merger. The Henry Ford and MSU names will not change, and both organizations will maintain their respective autonomies. The goal is to combine the strength of both institutions’ legacies and storied brands toward their shared goals. By mid-2021, there will be co-branding within some areas, including joint research efforts, and the Center will establish an umbrella entity for its activities and a joint identity. Several of the partnership’s advancements will result from the integration of both institutions around key research and program elements, while others, such as capital projects, are dependent upon securing private and philanthropic funding.

Dr. Steven Kalkanis, Henry Ford Health System Chief Academic Officer and Henry Ford Medical Group CEO, will be the inaugural president of the Health Sciences Center. Dr. Norman J. Beauchamp Jr., Executive Vice President of Health Sciences for MSU, will chair the board selected from leaders of both institutions. Each institution will maintain the vital partnerships developed with other organizations, including health care systems and academic institutions, strengthening the effort further.

“The benefits for our patients will grow as the partnership grows. With a bench to bedside approach, our patients benefit from discoveries in real time,” Lassiter said. “Patients affiliated with either institution will have access to new treatment options and clinical trials informed by the current research, as well as increased access to clinicians and premier specialists.”

“Strategic partnerships are more important now than ever before,” added Stanley. “We are doing this because we believe every individual deserves access to affordable, compassionate quality care. The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the urgency and importance of innovation and discovery in patient care and public health for all of the communities we serve. MSU also sees itself as a strategic partner in economic development. This partnership will create jobs through expansion of current programs, creation of new initiatives and attracting health-related companies to Michigan – specifically to Southeast Michigan. We will bring new revenue streams through attracting research funding, generating intellectual property and inviting partners to join us in public-private partnerships. Ultimately, poverty is a powerful predictor of poor health outcomes, and with increasing job opportunities and funding, we also improve health.”

At the core of the partnership is a unique primary academic affiliation. As the partnership evolves and expands, Michigan will be established as a destination for exceptional clinical care, advanced research and innovative medical education. The partnership will chart definitive progress in eliminating health disparities and addressing the needs of marginalized communities, improving health care for everyone. Most important of all, this partnership will provide improved care options and increased hope to patients and families facing disparate medical challenges, including cancer.

About Henry Ford Health System
Founded in 1915 by Henry Ford himself, Henry Ford Health System is a nonprofit, academic and integrated health system comprising five acute-care hospitals, three behavioral health facilities, a health plan and more than 250 care sites, including medical centers, walk-in and urgent care clinics, pharmacies, eye care facilities and other health care operations. The health system has more than 33,000 employees and is home to the 1,900-member Henry Ford Medical Group, one of the nation’s oldest physician groups. More than 2,500 physicians are also affiliated with the health system through the Henry Ford Physician Network and Jackson Health Network. Henry Ford Health System is also one of the nation’s major academic medical centers, receiving nearly $100 million in annual research funding, among Michigan’s largest NIH-funded institutions. Also, an active participant in medical education and training, the health system has trained nearly 40% of physicians currently practicing in Michigan and provides education and training for other health professionals including nurses, pharmacists, radiology and respiratory technicians.

About MSU
Michigan State University has been advancing the common good with uncommon will for more than 160 years. One of the top research universities in the world, MSU pushes the boundaries of discovery and forges enduring partnerships to solve the most pressing global challenges while providing life-changing opportunities to a diverse and inclusive academic community through more than 200 programs of study in 17 degree-granting colleges. MSU has offered health care education for more than a century. Combined, the human health colleges – the College of Human Medicine, the College of Nursing and the College of Osteopathic Medicine – have nearly 2,000 medical students, 2,500 residents and fellows, more than 500 nursing students and 20,000 alumni, most of whom practice in Michigan. It is the only university in the country with on-campus schools graduating allopathic and osteopathic physicians, as well as nurses and veterinarians.