UNC Health Care and Carolinas HealthCare System have announced plans to create a new combined health care system.

Officials formally announced their intentions just after noon on Thursday.

The release announcing the plans said that this was not a merger, but would be resulting in a new entity with a goal of “blending the best of a high-performing comprehensive healthcare system with a renowned academically-based enterprise.”

Leadership from each system have signed a Letter of Intent, according to the release, “to join their clinical, medical education and research resources.”

The new organization will focus on four areas: “increasing access and affordability, advancing clinical care expertise, growing their renowned academic enterprise and contributing to the region’s economic vibrancy.”

The two entities are now set to enter into negotiations with the goal of entering the final agreements by the end of the year.

Dr. William Roper, dean of the UNC School of Medicine and CEO of UNC Health Care, is set to become the new executive chair of the new organization. He issue a statement in the release:

“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. 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.”

Gene Woods is the current president and CEO of Carolinas HealthCare System and will be serving as CEO of the new entity.

“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. 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. Ensuring there is great healthcare in rural counties is not only important to our patients’ physical wellbeing, but is also vital to the economic wellbeing of those communities as well. 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.”

More information is available here.