Henry Ford Health System partnership story

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Comprised of hospitals, medical centers and one of the nation's largest group practices, the Henry Ford Medical Group, which includes more than 1,200 physicians practicing in over 40 specialties. The System's flagship, Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, is a Level 1 Trauma Center recognized for clinical excellence in cardiology, cardiovascular surgery, neurology and neurosurgery, orthopedics, sports medicine, multi-organ transplants and cancer treatment.

With more than 30,000 employees, Henry Ford Health System is the fifth-largest employer in metro Detroit, and among the most diverse.

Source: https://www.henryford.com/about


How can human mobility data help to understand changes in air quality before and during the pandemic?

Air quality in Detroit, MI has been known to be a contributing factor to many health conditions for patients in the HFHS community. Prior to 2020, the effects of pollutants by vehicles in the city were known to be a major cause, but it was difficult to determine just how much vehicles were contributing to overall poor air quality versus other industrial pollutants such as factories, industrial byproducts and infrastructure.

During the pandemic, HFHS saw a unique opportunity to look at changes in air quality while vehicle traffic in the area was greatly reduced to get a clearer picture of just how much they were to blame for overall poor air quality.


Layering in Unacast’s Social Distancing Scoreboard data on top of air quality metrics collected during the pandemic allowed HFHS to measure how human behavior contributes to the environmental health risks they deal with. It was theorized that there would be a measurable difference, but without concrete human mobility data, their study would have still been more speculative than provable.


In initial analyses, there was evidence that reduction in human movement was correlated with lower air pollution levels, based on distance traveled metrics and levels of particulate matter in metropolitan Detroit. Having this additional layer of data to incorporate into their study was incredibly valuable to their research. They are still continuing to track the air quality changes alongside human mobility data as pandemic restrictions are relaxed to add further insights to their study.

They had not had access to this type of data in the past, and now that it has proved to be so valuable, they are looking into other areas where they can incorporate it into their research.


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