Two North Carolina health systems, Charlotte-based Carolinas HealthCare System and Chapel Hill-based UNC Health Care, on Thursday announced that they are negotiating a merger that would combine their clinical, medical education and research resources.
In a joint press release, the two health systems said they plan to create "one of the leading non-profit healthcare systems in the nation, by blending the best of a high-performing comprehensive healthcare system with a renowned academically-based enterprise.”
According to Raleigh-based The News & Observer newspaper, the merger would create one of the largest nonprofit healthcare networks in the nation, employing some 90,000 people and running more than 50 hospitals. Last year, UNC Health Care posted a record $3.6 billion in revenue and Carolina’s HealthCare posted revenue of $9.8 billion, the newspaper reported.
The two health systems have signed a Letter of Intent to merge and have agreed to start a period of exclusive negotiations, with the goal of entering into final agreements by the end of the year. “The new organization will deliver world-class care to people in North Carolina by creating the most comprehensive network of primary, specialty and on-demand care in the Southeast,” the organizations said in the press release.
Together, the health systems would be focused on four strategic areas: increasing access and affordability, advancing clinical care expertise, growing their renowned academic enterprise and contributing to the region’s economic vibrancy.
"Together with UNC Health Care, we believe that the opportunities to be a national model and to elevate health in North Carolina are nearly limitless," Gene Woods, current president and CEO of Carolinas HealthCare System, and future CEO of the new entity, said in a prepared statement. “For example, since our organizations already serve almost 50 percent of all patients who visit rural hospitals in our state, we are perfectly positioned to participate in the reinvention of rural healthcare in partnership with others.”
Woods also said, “At the same time, we are also inspired by what our two organizations will be able to do together to transform cancer treatment. At Levine Cancer Institute, we care for over 10,000 new patients every year, and over 1,000 participate in clinical trials through a ‘care-close-to-home’ model in more than 25 locations throughout the Carolinas. Combined with UNC Health Care’s National Cancer Institute designation, with more than $70 million in joint cancer research grants for clinical trials, we will create a cancer network that is second to none in the country. In short, this partnership is an example of one of those truly ‘big ideas’ that this state is known for."
The two health systems are focused on improving access to care in underserved and rural geographies, jointly addressing behavioral health needs, designing new models of care and further developing virtual care platforms, health system officials said.
“By integrating our organizations, we are combining the strengths of two great health systems, providing greater access to a full range of services and leading-edge treatments for patients, enabling better coordination of care and advancing research,” said William Roger, M.D., dean of the UNC School of Medicine, CEO of UNC Health Care, and future executive chair of the new organization, said in a prepared statement. “Carolinas HealthCare System is one of the most innovative healthcare organizations in the nation, particularly in combining world-class clinical care with a community care model. By combining our two extremely mission-focused organizations, we will offer an unparalleled array of services, expertise and experiences for our patients and communities—beyond what either of us could do independently.”