Rhode Island's two largest hospital groups have signed a letter of intent to merge and form a partnership with Brown University's medical school, officials announced Wednesday.
The boards of Lifespan and Care New England approved the letter on intent on Tuesday night, according to a joint statement. Proponents say it would benefit patients, reduce costs and boost research.
"By working together, Lifespan, Care New England, and Brown University can create a fully integrated academic healthcare system for the people of Rhode Island," Lifespan President and CEO Dr. Timothy Babineau said in a statement.
Mergers have been proposed and failed in the past, but talks were revived in June, spurred by increased cooperation during he coronavirus pandemic.
"After careful consideration, there is clear recognition of the value of a more formal relationship," Care New England President and CEO Dr. James Fanale said. "Overall benefit, regarding the capabilities and reach of what is possible for the health care of our local communities, has been defined with a clear, high-level vision of what could be possible."
Brown President Christina Paxson said she was "thrilled" with the announcement.
Any merger would require regulatory approval.
The two systems have more than 23,000 employees combined.
Lifespan operates Rhode Island, Hasbro Children's, Miriam, Newport and Bradley hospitals, while Care New England operates Women & Infants, Kent and Butler hospitals.