When Henry Ford Health System and Michigan State University formally announced a 30-year partnership one year ago today, the organizations set themselves on a trajectory toward a bold vision – to discover and advance a new standard of health to transform life.
It is with that vision in mind that the two organizations mark their first anniversary by expressing gratitude to their respective teams. In a joint letter, Henry Ford Health System President and CEO Wright Lassiter, III, and MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D. said, “There is no question that the challenges of 2021 continued to test all of us in unique ways. In some respect, these challenges have only strengthened our resolve to better the health of our communities by advancing patient care, education, research and innovation on behalf of all people we serve.”
In its first year, the partners reached several milestones across shared goals, culminating in the public launch of their new, unified brand last fall. As they begin this new year of possibilities, leaders say they will continue to build on that foundation. Here are just a few highlights of what is planned for 2022:
- Investing in emerging joint cancer care and research: It’s safe to say – Henry Ford and MSU believe the future of cancer care lives right here in Michigan. Having successfully established a collaborative cancer research task force, the organizations have identified the majority of National Cancer Institute required funding across both institutions and charted a defined path to NCI Comprehensive Cancer Center Designation. This year, they will be funding additional joint cancer research efforts that will provide new opportunities for collaboration and innovation. Additionally, work has begun on the design and plan for a joint research building to be built near Henry Ford’s Detroit Campus.
- Advancing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice (DEIJ): Having identified key goals and actions across the DEIJ continuum, the organizations are poised to focus on several key areas in 2022. With cancer rates skyrocketing, especially within urban and rural communities in Michigan, the partners will work to define clear paths for addressing health equity and health disparities, particularly in patients with cancer. On the medical education front, they will actively explore pathways for engaging young people throughout Michigan in healthcare careers – identifying innovative opportunities for education and training that meet students where they are.
- Opening a MSU Health Education Campus at Henry Ford Hospital: The partners are excited to introduce a new MSU health education campus at Henry Ford Hospital in 2022 to begin clinical training for third and fourth year students from the MSU College of Human Medicine and fourth year students from the College of Osteopathic Medicine. In partnership with the College of Nursing, they will be expanding opportunities for Henry Ford employees to gain professional development and further their careers in health sciences. The partners will also be expanding capacity at Henry Ford’s community hospitals for additional medical students from the MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine, as well as creating capacity to train more nursing, advanced practice and allied health students in all system hospitals.
- Creating a unified research community: Having begun to harmonize research operations, more than 100 Henry Ford researchers are finalizing the faculty appointment process and anticipate being welcomed into the MSU faculty community in the near future. The combined research enterprise will be housed virtually and coordinated within the Henry Ford Health/MSU Health Sciences Center which has now been recognized by the NIH among the top research institutions in the country. A top priority over the next 2-3 years will be to grow research by recruiting, retaining and strengthening the best talent.
- Empowering health plan customers with great choices: With Health Alliance Plan, HAP and MSU Health Care joining forces this past fall to educate Medicare-eligible individuals about HMO and PPO insurance products, HAP's popular Medicare Advantage insurance products will be available across 36 HAP service counties – a zero-dollar premium providing seniors with the highest quality health care backed by exceptional providers and HAP’s renowned customer service. In 2022, the two teams are poised to build on that success with the development of a MSU Health Care branded Medicare Advantage program.
Calling their coming together an “exciting and complex journey of discovery and collaboration,” Lassiter and Stanley said they have only scratched the surface of what’s possible and look forward to what this new year brings.