Northwestern Memorial HealthCare (NMHC) and Cadence Health have signed a letter of intent to enter a period of exclusive discussions to form an integrated academic healthcare delivery system.

Cadence Health is corporate parent to Central DuPage Hospital and Delnor Hospital.

It also includes Cadence Physician Group, a local network of more than 250 primary care physicians and specialists on the medical staff at CDH or Delnor Hospital.

NMHC is parent to Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital, a 201-bed community hospital located in Lake Forest, Illinois; Chicago’s Northwestern Memorial Hospital, an 894-bed academic medical centre hospital; and Northwestern Medical Group, representing over 900 faculty physicians of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

NMHC president and CEO Dean M Harrison said that Cadence Health is one of Illinois’ premier healthcare systems.

"A merger of our health systems would combine Cadence Health’s strong portfolio of primary and specialty care with our strength as one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers, to create a preeminent integrated academic health system that benefits all residents, regardless of their ability to pay, by giving them increased access to physicians, clinical trials and Northwestern University research programs as well as integrated primary, secondary and advanced tertiary services," Harrison added.

If the collaboration goes ahead, Harrison will continue to lead the combined health system, which will operate under the Northwestern Medicine brand name and its governance will include equal representation from Cadence Health and NMHC.

Cadence Health president and CEO Mike Vivoda, who will become the regional president for NMHC, said, "We believe this merger will create a multi-regional health system focused on the singular vision of providing high-quality care with an unwavering patient focus."

Cadence Health employs more than 7,400 professionals providing care across an interdependent network of healthcare organisations.

Image: Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital visitor entrance. Photo courtesy of Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital.