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Two Large Health Systems in Chicago Metro Area to Combine to Become Area’s Largest

September 13, 2014
by Mark Hagland
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Advocate Health Care and NorthShore University Health System combine to create a mega-system in the Chicago area and northeastern Illinois

On September 12, Advocate Health Care and NorthShore University HealthSystem announced that they are merging to form a new health system called Advocate NorthShore Health Partners (ANHP). When complete, ANHP will be the largest health system in Illinois, and the eleventh-largest not-for-profit health system in the U.S., serving 3 million patients annually, with 16 hospitals, over 350 care sites, and $6.8 billion in revenues.

Both the Advocate and NorthShore health systems have grown considerably in past years through consolidation and acquisition, and both are already among the several dominant integrated health systems in the Chicago area. The Downers Grove-based Advocate Health Care brings 11 acute-care hospitals, one children’s hospital, and 250 care sites to the merger, while the Evanston-based NorthShore University Health System brings four hospitals and 100-plus medical care sites to the combination.

In a statement included in the press release announcing the merger, Jim Skogsbergh, president and CEO of Advocate, said, “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.”

And in NorthShore’s press release, Mark Neaman, that organization’s president and CEO, said, “This agreement brings together the best of our two health systems: quality, safety and clinical integration supported by translational research and technology advancements. “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,” Neaman added.

Both organizations have been innovators in the health IT area. Indeed, NorthShore University Health System was one of two health systems—the other was Kaiser Permanente—whose hospitals achieved the first “Stage 7” recognition from HIMSS Analytics, a division of the Chicago-based Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), back in March 2009. Stage 7 recognition requires that patient care organizations “deliver patient care without the use of paper charts; are able to share patient information by sending secure standardized summary record transactions to other care providers; user their vast database of clinical information to drive improved care delivery performance, patient safety clinical decision support, and outcomes using business intelligence solutions”; and “are best practice examples of how to implement sophisticated EMR environments that fully engage their clinicians, according to HIMSS Analytics standards.

Then, in April 2013, NorthShore became the first integrated health system to achieve Stage 7 status for its ambulatory clinics.

What’s more, leaders at NorthShore have been pushing ahead in many different areas, including leveraging their core electronic health record to help them proactively screen and identify patients at risk for complications of high blood pressure, in the population being seen by their organization’s medical group. For that work, Healthcare Informatics in 2013 named NorthShore one of the winners of its annual Innovator Awards program.