NorthShore University HealthSystem and Advocate Health Care announced last month they intend to combine to create Advocate NorthShore Health Partners (ANHP). When complete, ANHP will be the largest integrated health-0care delivery system in Illinois and the 11th largest not-for-profit health-care system in the United States, serving 3 million patients annually, the organizations said in a joint press release.

 “We have great respect for the NorthShore organization. We see the world through the same lens – providing exceptional patient care by delivering better health outcomes at a lower cost,” said Jim Skogsbergh, President and Chief Executive Officer of Advocate. “In addition to an outstanding leadership team, medical group and strong reputation for quality, NorthShore is a pioneer in developing a tightly integrated system – advancing alignment with physicians and hospitals.”

NorthShore operates hospitals in Evanston, Glenbrook, Highland Park and Skokie. Advocate operates 10 acute – care hospitals in the State and many other health-care facilities.

Both the Advocate and the NorthShore Board of Directors voted to sign an affiliation agreement.

“This agreement brings together the best of our two health systems: quality, safety and clinical integration supported by translational research and technology advancements,” said Mark Neaman, President and Chief Executive Officer of NorthShore. “Advocate leads the way in their proven approach to population health. By joining together, we will raise the bar regionally and nationally for a new model of health-care delivery,” Mr. Neaman added.

The affiliation agreement outlines plans to consolidate balance sheets and form a single Board of Directors, as well as adopt a unified mission, vision and strategy. Mssrs. Skogsbergh and Neaman will serve as co-CEOs for a designated period. The ANHP Board of Directors will be composed of an equal number of members from Advocate and NorthShore.

The Advocate and NorthShore names will continue to be used under the new structure. “Both organizations have a rich history of serving our communities and we will continue to build upon that strength,” said Mr. Skogsbergh.

“We share a long-term strategy to reduce costs while improving efficiencies and advancing quality,” said NorthShore Board Chair Steven Crown. “We have to be leaders in an ever-changing health-care marketplace and by working together, we can enhance access to care across the diverse communities we serve.”

“Combined, we will create economies of scale that will allow us to reduce the trend of rising health care costs,” said Advocate Board Chair Michele Richardson. “Both organizations have a long standing commitment to quality, and together we will continue to advance innovation and outcomes.”

The agreement is subject to multiple regulatory approvals including the Federal Trade Commission and the Illinois Health Facilities and Review Board. The United Church of Christ must also approve the merger. A closing is expected in early 2015.