Health Care

Miami’s Baptist Health to merge with Bethesda Health in Boynton Beach

The talks are over and the merger has begun between Baptist Health South Florida, Miami-Dade’s largest hospital system, and Boynton Beach-based Bethesda Health.

Executives for the two non-profit hospital systems announced on Friday that they have signed an agreement to merge after more than a year of exploratory conversation.

The agreement calls for a two-year transition period, culminating on Sept. 30, 2017. During that time, the hospital systems will collaborate on operations and share best practices.

Baptist Health includes six hospitals in Miami-Dade and one in Monroe, as well as numerous outpatient clinics, diagnostic centers and other facilities throughout South Florida. Bethesda Health is a two-hospital system with numerous specialized medical centers.

Talks between the two hospital systems began in February 2014, motivated by changes in the industry — many brought about by the Affordable Care Act — that will reward healthcare groups that can most effectively treat patients across different settings, from primary care physicians and specialists to hospitals, rehabilitation centers and other medical facilities.