11 Things to Know about Henry Ford Health System


While the Detroit-based Henry Ford Health System has humble beginnings — it was once a 48 bed hospital — this system has been a cultural leader in healthcare. Its flagship hospital, Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, was the first to form a group practice model with a closed, salaried medical staff. It later lent itself to the government for almost a year during World War I and is one of the first hospitals the U.S. to institute a total ban on smoking.


These days, the health system is still a great influencer of excellence in care. Here are 10 things to know about Henry Ford Health system, which was recently named to the Becker's Hospital Review 100 Great Hospitals in America 2014 list.

1. The nonprofit system was founded in 1915 by automaker Henry Ford, who financed and led the development of the project. The original hospital had 48 beds. That number has grown many times over; currently Henry Ford Hospital has 802 beds.

2. The system includes many locations through Michigan, including 8 hospitals, 29 medical centers and specialized medical facilities, 8 emergency departments, 24 pharmacies and the Henry Ford Medical Group, which includes more than 1,200 physicians in more than 40 specialties. The system is governed by a 21-member board of trustees.

3.All told, the system employs more than 23,000 employees, approximately 15,000 of them full time and 8,200 working in Detroit. It employs 9,880 nurses. It is the fifth-largest employer in Detroit.

4. Detroit's bankruptcy has challenged the health system to become a creative recruiter of professional talent. Ms. Schlichting addressed the issue in an interview with the Detroit Free Press in late February 2014, saying Detroit's bankruptcy can be the elephant in the room for some: "It's a mixed bag […] because without the bankruptcy I think Detroit would not have a big problem at all attracting talent. Recently, since the bankruptcy, we've heard from physicians or leaders that are living in other more stable environments, they ask a lot of questions about 'what does bankruptcy mean for Henry Ford?' and 'is the city really coming back?' So we do our sales job — and we have done very well attracting talent."

5. The system had been set last year to merge with Beaumont Health System in Royal Oak, Mich., but the pair called off the blockbuster deal in March 2013 after spending six months in merger discussions. The deal would have created a 10-hosiptal health system worth $6.4 billion, resulting in nearly 40 percent market share in Southeast Michigan. Both systems cited differences in vision and perspective as the primary factors involved in derailing the merger.

6. According to the system's most recent report, the hospital has posted positive revenue growth and net income for nine consecutive years as of 2011. In 2011, the system reported total revenues of $4.22 billion, with $23.2 million in net income. The system provided $390 million in community benefits to Detroit in 2011, including $210 million worth of uncompensated medical care.

7. The system has undergone a financial turnaround in the last decade. Bill Taylor, an author, blogger for the Harvard Business Review and cofounder of Fast Company magazine, covered the transformation in his book, Practically Radical Not-So-Crazy Ways to Transform Your Company, Shake Up Your Industry, and Challenge Yourself. The system had been unprofitable in the early 2000s, losing $87 million in 2001 and continuing the pattern until 2003, when it posted $12 million in profits. Henry Ford Health System's CEO Nancy Schlichting, MBA, is widely credited with leading the system's financial turnaround in 2003. CEO since June 2013, she joined the system in 1998 as senior vice president and chief administrative officer and has won many awards in her time in the position.

8. In one year, the system interacts with approximately 3.1 million patients and admits about 93,000 patients to its hospitals. The system saw a 2.1 percent increase in admissions between 2010 and 2011. In 2012, the system saw 3.2 million outpatient visits and nearly 89,000 surgical procedures performed.

9. The system's flagship hospital, Henry Ford Hospital, is a Level 1 Trauma center affiliated with the Wayne State University School of Medicine, also in Detroit. The hospital has 1,700 affiliated physicians and researchers and, as of August 2013, is the fifth largest hospital in the Midwest region, with 10,173 employees.

10. The health system is consistently ranked among the top hospitals and health systems in the United States, especially its Henry Ford Hospital, which is ranked fifth overall in Michigan and is one of only 3 percent of hospitals nationwide to be ranked in a selection of 16 specialties on U.S. News and World Report's Best Hospitals 2014 list. The hospital ranked forty-third in the country for neurology and neurosurgery and was deemed "high-performing" for cancer, cardiology and heart surgery, diabetes and endocrinology, gastroenterology and GI surgery, geriatrics, gynecology, nephrology, orthopedics, pulmonology and urology.

11. Research at the health system is centered in Henry Ford Hospital and includes cardiovascular and renal, neurosciences, bone and joint, cancer, immunology and population health research. At any given time, the system has approximately 1,700 active studies ongoing in medical and surgical departments directed by 81 biosciences staff, physician-scientists and PhDs. An early adopter of research promoting value-based care, it is a 2011 Malcolm Baldrige Award-winner. Its "No Harm Campaign" is its most successful quality initiative, with its readmissions program — in which the system decreased its Medicare readmissions 19 percent — not far behind.

Note: Bill Taylor is a keynote speaker for the Becker's Healthcare 21st Annual Ambulatory Surgery Centers Conference in October. Learn more about Mr. Taylor and the conference here.


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