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Henry Ford Health System and MSU Address Healthcare Disparities Through Partnership Expansion Plan

By Melanie Blackman  
   June 18, 2020

The two organizations signed a letter of intent for primary affiliation to help vulnerable populations.

Henry Ford Health System and Michigan State University (MSU) signed a letter of intent to expand their collaboration to address healthcare disparities.

The focus of the affiliation is to improve "access, affordability, and outcomes, especially for Detroit and Michigan's most vulnerable populations," as stated in a press release last week. This primary affiliation between a fully integrated academic health system and a state university is among the first in the Detroit, Michigan region.

The non-binding letter of intent includes several features, including:

  • Shared research between Henry Ford Health System and MSU
  • Expanded educational opportunities for health students attending MSU, as well as Henry Ford Health System physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals
  • A long-term plan to build a joint Research Institute to study "health inequalities and disparities, social determinants of health, primary care, implementation sciences, and precision health and cancer"
  • Expanded translational research
  • A cancer program that will combine research and clinical applications, with a goal of achieving National Cancer Institute designation
  • Offering care for patients from primary care to specialty care and chronic disease management

Related: Steering Motor City Healthcare: A Q&A With Henry Ford Health System CEO Wright Lassiter III

"Partnerships with the potential for greater impact are more important than ever before," said Henry Ford Health System President and CEO, Wright Lassiter, III. "The COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing injustices and recent protests in cities across our nation have amplified the importance of and urgency for innovation and discovery that radically improves the health of all of the communities we serve."

"Health care is one of the most important building blocks of a strong community, and for that we believe every individual deserves accessible, affordable, compassionate, quality care," said MSU president, Dr. Samuel L. Stanley Jr. "We must seek solutions to address disparities across cultural, racial and socioeconomic lines. This pandemic has demonstrated the willingness of individuals from multiple disciplines and from different organizations to unite—the time to build upon that is now."

Henry Ford Health System and MSU are hoping to finalize a series of definitive agreements by fall 2020.

Melanie Blackman is the strategy editor at HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.

Photo credit: DETROIT, MI-MAY, 2015: The Henry Ford Health System is one of the largest medical providers in the Detroit area. This is the original hospital where it was founded by Henry Ford. / Editorial Credit: James R. Martin /

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