Case Studies

"Radically Convenient” Access to Primary Care Services at Henry Ford Health System

Henry Ford Health System is a not-for-profit corporation composed of hospitals, medical centers, an insurance company, private physicians and a large group practice. The Henry Ford Medical Group includes more than 1,200 physicians practicing in over 40 specialties. Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit is a Level I trauma center. Henry Ford Health System is the fifth-largest employer in metro Detroit and a Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award recipient.

Recognizing rapid changes in the health care field, Henry Ford has strategically shifted toward focusing on patient needs and consumer expectations. In 2006, new leadership initiated a holistic, wellness-based approach to medicine and a culture of customer service.
Henry Ford believes that the average patient sees high-quality health care being provided everywhere. To differentiate itself, the system launched a strategy of “radically convenient” access to primary care services. Henry Ford expanded its health care offerings to meet patient demand for convenient and affordable primary care beyond the traditional doctor’s office visit. Patients are encouraged to “call, click or come in” to access services.

  • Call – A registered nurse-on-call program offers nonemergency medical advice over the phone, saving patients a trip to urgent care or the emergency room. There is a direct cold-and-flu line.
  • Click – Epic’s MyChart, an online platform, allows patients to schedule appointments online, view test results, communicate directly with their physicians and connect with providers. To save time and limit exposure to other sick patients in the waiting room, patients can virtually hold their place in line at same-day clinics with the Clockwise MD tool. Henry Ford’s integrated insurance company, Health Alliance Plan, covers e-visits with no co-pay for insured patients who see a Henry Ford Medical Group physician.
  • Come In – Henry Ford has increased its primary care presence by expanding late, early and weekend appointments; promising same-day doctor’s office visits to patients who call for an appointment by noon; creating walk-in clinics with the same co-pay as an office visit; and operating traditional urgent care centers. The system also partnered with CVS to establish in-store MinuteClinics at 17 locations in southeast Michigan. 

In 2015, Henry Ford opened its QuickCare Clinic, a one-stop shop in the heart of downtown Detroit. Covered by most health insurance plans, the clinic offers mid-level and nurse practitioner primary care and OB-GYN services. The location also offers expanded wellness services such as acupuncture, massage and virtual telemedicine consultations for dermatology. Designed to fit the needs of its millennial population, the clinic allows for walk-ins or smartphone requests to hold a spot in line, with adjustment notifications via text, and guarantees that patients will receive care within an hour. The walk-in clinic tends to be less expensive than most urgent care centers.

Lessons Learned 

  • Location matters. The QuickCare Clinic opened in the heart of the millennial population it was aiming to serve.
  • What consumers demand may shift the paradigm on what is considered “retail.” For example, a system may add higher-acuity services, like suturing, based on patients’ needs.
  • All patients, no matter what age, want convenience, service and digital delivery of care. Hospitals and health systems need to focus on understanding their niche in health care and then work to meet their patients’ needs.

Liz Schnell
Vice President of Brand Strategy

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