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Transformative Partnership

Case Study: Henry Ford Health System

Henry Ford’s Community Pillar is ‘Weight-Bearing and Accountable’

In conferring upon Henry Ford Health System the coveted Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award for 2011, Baldrige examiners noted the health system’s highly aligned focus on community as a strong distinguishing factor.

Henry Ford’s Community Pillar is the epicenter of all community engagement and health improvement strategies for the system – the forum where Community Health Needs Assessment and Community Benefits interact, with robust targets and measurable outcomes. Pillar metrics are board-reportable and institutionally aligned—as weight-bearing and accountable as any finance target. Quarterly, the Community Pillar Team convenes high-ranking leaders from the health system’s seven business units to review metrics on strategic objectives in key areas of infrastructure and community benefit, wellness, access, equity, and new and emerging programs/partnerships. Working groups in each of these areas meet regularly for greater alignment.

The Community Pillar

The “Henry Ford Experience” is built on seven pillars representing its strategic priorities: People, Service, Quality & Safety, Growth, Research & Education, Finance, and Community. The Community Pillar has equal standing with every other pillar, and its goals are aligned synergistically with other pillar goals. For example, the Equity initiatives of the Community Pillar link strongly to related initiatives in Quality & Safety, in keeping with the Institute of Medicine’s designation of Equity as one of the six aims of Quality.

As part of the Community Pillar, the Healthcare Equity Campaign has gained national recognition for its comprehensive goal to increase knowledge, awareness, and opportunities to ensure that healthcare equity is understood and practiced by system providers and other staff, the research community, and the community-at large, and to link healthcare equity as a key measurable aspect of clinical quality. Administered through the system’s Institute on Multicultural Health, the Campaign touched all seven performance pillars over its three years (2009-2012).

Among other strategies, the campaign, with others: developed a strong communications platform to raise awareness on equity and disparities as measured by the AMA-originated instrument, the AREA Scale; created and implemented original continuing education credit programs around equity, uprooting racism, and cultural competency, including an online course; brought in nationally known speakers; collaborated with researchers and registration teams to modify patient registration tables to include race-ethnicity and language fields; worked closely with system quality leaders to designate an ever increasing number of quality measures stratified by race-ethnicity; and collaborated with diversity leaders to plan and sponsor numerous community events including MLK Day and diversity celebrations attended by more than 400 guests annually.

Powerful Results

A direct result of the Community Pillar’s Equity focus: more than 300 Healthcare Equity Ambassadors have been trained; over 7,500 employee and continuing education contact hours logged; more than 360,000 patient self-reported race-ethnicity/language forms entered into the point-of-service registration system; and focus groups conducted within five diverse racial-ethnic communities to better understand how healthcare equity programs can contribute to Southeast Michigan’s richly diverse multicultural population (recognizing and, wherever possible, working with existing health beliefs and cultural preferences).

A national partnership has been established with the Johns Hopkins’ Center for Health Disparities Solutions (Culture-Quality-Collaborative), five pilot patient-care projects have been funded through the Gail and Lois Warden Endowed Chair in Multicultural Health, 14 system boards and leadership academies have undergone equity education, residency programs now include equity and cultural competency coursework, and a tailored version of the CME/CEU program is being rolled out to an additional 500 community providers as one of three objectives of the $2.6-million grant-funded Sew Up the Safety Net for Women And Children project of the Detroit Regional Infant Mortality Reduction Task Force.