Henry Ford Health System, Wayne State University discussing potential affiliation

Henry Ford Health System and Wayne State University are planning a potential affiliation, according to a new report. (hstiver)

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include a statement from Henry Ford Health System.

Henry Ford Health System and Wayne State University have been engaged in affiliation talks for more than 18 months, and a letter of intent is forthcoming, according to a new report.

Crain's Detroit Business obtained hundreds of pages documents on the deal from Wayne State through a Freedom of Information Act request, which revealed a plan to form a health system that can rival Michigan Medicine and "leapfrog" over Beaumont Health in Royal Oak, Michigan.

If the plan goes through, it would align 1,530 doctors in one medical group and bring a prominent medical school into the Henry Ford fold, according to the article. Wayne State, at present, has ties to Detroit Medical Center, which is owned by Tenet Healthcare.

In a statement emailed to FierceHealthcare, Wayne State said that the discussions are "a continuation of talks that have been going on for a number of years" with Henry Ford, and that the two have had a "strong partnership" over the years.

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"While we are excited by the vision of a thriving academic medical center and its transformative potential for our community, any formal announcement of the agreement is premature, and there is no guarantee for an eventual agreement," the university said.

Wayne State also said that it is continuing talks with DMC for a long-term deal to continue that partnership as well. 

The documents estimate that the alignment could generate as much as $200 million in additional physician billing, Medicare payments and graduate medical education funding, Crain's reported.

"We share a common vision with Wayne State University that the overall health and wellness of our community depends on a strong commitment to medical education, research and clinical innovation," John Popovich, M.D., CEO of Henry Ford, said in a statement emailed to FierceHealthcare. "As part of that plan going forward, we are in discussions to explore ways of improving the academic partnership between our institutions."

Popovich also said in the statement that the talks would not get in the way of Wayne State's current relationship with DMC.

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Consolidation has been commonplace in the healthcare industry of late, and analysts do not foresee that trend slowing down any time soon. Kaufman Hall reported that there were 31 healthcare deals in the first quarter of this year, compared with 30 in 2017's first quarter and 25 in the first quarter of 2016.

The documents obtained by Crain's also outline potential long-range plans for the alignment. A 2025 vision statement would include new buildings for cancer care and clinical research, Crain's reported.

Wayne State said in its statement that the affiliation, if it goes through in some form, would not impact Henry Ford's current relationship with Children's Hospital of Michigan. If the two sides reach an agreement, a joint entity would not launch competing inpatient pediatric services.

"Whatever the ultimate outcome of our negotiations, it is critical that our faculty have a meaningful and lasting relationship with Children's Hospital of Michigan," the university said.