Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore and Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Md., plan to merge some services.
In addition, Johns Hopkins and the National Institutes of Health signed an affiliation agreement that is expected to increase educational opportunities and clinical interactions among the three hospitals.
"This affiliation is not a merger," said John D. Stobo, chairman and chief executive officer of Johns Hopkins HealthCare. "Our medical staffs will retain their independence, and each organization will remain administratively separate and distinct from each other."
Under the agreement, Suburban and Johns Hopkins will form a joint business development company to explore new healthcare ventures, including one or more ambulatory satellite centers in the Washington area, Johns Hopkins officials said.
Suburban and Johns Hopkins also will work with NIH to foster clinical research and teaching at all three institutions.
Johns Hopkins Medicine includes the system's two hospitals-Johns Hopkins Hospital and Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center-along with the medical school, Johns Hopkins Medical Services Corp., Johns Hopkins Home Care Group and Johns Hopkins HealthCare.
Suburban, a 392-bed facility, is the designated trauma center for Montgomery County.
"Patients who receive care through Suburban Hospital and its physicians will now have a direct link to highly specialized procedures available at Hopkins and the innovative research at NIH," said Brian Grissler, Suburban's president.