Agreement forms a basis for future efforts to coordinate hospital care, children's care, cancer care, health research, doctor training & hiring, and moreANN ARBOR and NOVI, Mich., March 1, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The University of Michigan Health System (UMHS) and Trinity Health-Michigan have signed a new master affiliation agreement that paves the way for close cooperation between the two health systems that will benefit patients around the state. The agreement signals an intention to work together on specific opportunities that may be developed by teams of physicians and leaders from both systems. The goal: to use the complementary strengths and geographic location of UMHS and Trinity- Michigan services to help patients get the care they need in the most appropriate place. They will also seek to improve the safety net for the uninsured. That effort will begin with southeastern Michigan, where both health systems are based, and grow to the rest of the state. Initially, they will explore areas that include inpatient hospital capacity, high-complexity care for the most seriously ill patients, children's care, cancer care, physician training and hiring, clinical research and support services such as information technology. The affiliation also positions UMHS and Trinity- Michigan to take advantage of new federal and state programs, such as accountable care organizations or ACOs, that incentivize health systems to provide better and more coordinated care for entire populations of patients while also containing the growth of costs. "We are thrilled to embark on this level of affiliation, which makes us Trinity's preferred academic partner in Michigan and sets the stage for great things to come," says Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, M.D., the executive vice president for medical affairs at U-M and CEO of UMHS. "This makes possible so many opportunities that could benefit patients statewide by providing the care they need at the best place for them, ensuring our future supply of physicians and creating new knowledge from research." "From Saint Joseph Mercy Health System on the east side to Mercy Health on the west side, our organizations throughout Michigan have enjoyed a long-standing and positive relationship with the U-M Health System," says Garry C. Faja, President and CEO of Saint Joseph Mercy Health System and Regional Market Executive, Trinity Health-East Michigan. "We are excited about the opportunity to work more closely together to better meet the needs of patients and the communities we serve. " UMHS, which has three hospitals in Ann Arbor and a network of primary care and specialty outpatient centers in three counties, provides some of the most advanced care in the nation – care that addresses some of the most severe illnesses and conditions. Trinity Health's Michigan-wide presence extends from Saint Joseph Mercy Health System in the metro Detroit area with hospitals in Ann Arbor, Chelsea, Howell, Livonia, Pontiac, Port Huron and Saline; up to Grayling and Cadillac in northern Michigan, and to the west with Mercy Health in Grand Rapids and Muskegon. With a state-wide base of hospitals and associated services under one affiliation agreement, the two health systems now have a wide range of options for designing new models of care to better serve patients.