Jefferson Health (Jefferson) and Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) have signed a non-binding letter of intent (LOI) to merge their operations to create an integrated care delivery system in Eastern Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey.

This care delivery system includes Thomas Jefferson University, which is a national research university, and an expanded not-for-profit health plan.

The deal closure is expected in 2024, subject to regulatory approvals. Until then, Jefferson and LVHN will operate independently.

The combined organisation aims to improve access to affordable care in rural and urban areas, clinical research, enhance health plan offerings, and address health inequities.

Jefferson CEO Joseph G Cacchione said: “Combining Jefferson’s and LVHN’s resources will allow us to meet the changing needs of our diverse communities faster, more efficiently and more effectively.

“Together—with our combined network of resources and sites of care, managed care expertise, education and research capabilities—we will have the ability to make significant improvements to health outcomes and address health disparities in this region, and beyond, to the benefit our communities, patients, physicians, faculty, staff, students and health plan members.”

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The merger would result in a healthcare network of 30 hospitals and over 700 sites of care, supported by more than 62,000 faculty, clinicians, and staff.

This combined healthcare network will provide services in specialty care including oncology, neurology, orthopaedics, cardiovascular and organ transplants.

The deal will enhance the complementary capabilities of the two organisations in terms of population health management and academic programmes while bolstering financial stability.

After the merger, a new integrated board will feature key members from both the organisations.

Lehigh Valley Health Network president and CEO Brian A. Nester said: “We are thrilled to be combining with Jefferson and excited about the immediate and long-term benefits this combination will create for the communities of the Lehigh Valley and Eastern Pennsylvania.”