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Henry Ford Health System

Project Overview

The Henry Ford Health System demonstration project in Detroit, Michigan created a seamless set of services for patients with terminal illnesses. The system's hospitals, hospice, homehealth care, nursing home and social work programs, including more than 1,000 doctors and 3,000 nurses, worked together to improve end-of-life care within their health care system.

Henry Ford’s "Enhancing Communication for Improved End-of-Life Care" project created a flexible array of supportive services for the Henry Ford Health System’s Medicare managed care program, Senior Plus, a plan offered to patients living with life limiting illnesses.

Patients who were diagnosed with progressive, ultimately terminal conditions explored options for end-of-life care with their families via personal counseling and the use of an innovative, interactive CD-ROM, “Completing a Life.” In addition, Henry Ford Health System clinicians received in-depth training regarding when to implement and how to discuss palliative care with patients and  families. Demonstration project investigators also developed the advance care planning booklet, “Deciding for Yourself,” a booklet that blends discussions on curative and palliative care.

Once a patient and family agreed on a set of preferences for care, their choices were stored on a system-wide computer, helping ensure that those preferences were honored regardless of where in the vast Henry Ford system the patient received care during the course of illness.

Under the guidance of Principal Investigator Leslie Bricker, M.D., director of the Hospice of Henry Ford Health System, this program demonstrated how a leading health system introduced a new way of offering care. The project included an evaluation component to study the types of care patients chose, the system's success in adhering to patient preferences, the impact of the approach on the overall costs of care and improvements in provider practices as knowledge of palliative care increased.



After the Grant

The Henry Ford system adopted many of the project’s products and protocols as institutional policy and educational resources, and integrated them into the Henry Ford electronic medical record system.

Contact Information

Principal Investigator:
Leslie J. Bricker, M.D.
Senior Staff Physician
Henry Ford Health System
Division of Hematology/Oncology
2799 West Grand Blvd.
Detroit, MI 48202
Phone: 313.916.1859
Fax: 313.916.7911
Email: [email protected]

Web site:

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Promoting Excellence in End-of-Life Care was a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation dedicated to long-term changes in health care institutions to substantially improve care for dying people and their families.