DuPage Medical Group inks deal with The South Bend Clinic to expand into Indiana

Human hands working with documents at desk and signing contrac
DuPage Medical Group, comprised of more than 700 physicians, will collaborate with The South Bend Clinic's nearly 170 doctors. The arrangement will see South Bend's CEO shuffle into the larger organization's senior leadership as a regional CEO. (Getty/scyther5)

DuPage Medical Group, the largest multispecialty physician group in Illinois, has inked a deal with The South Bend Clinic to expand into Indiana.

The two organizations have signed a letter of intent to form a partnership that will “create a consistent and distinctive patient experience across both organizations,” according to a spokesperson.

As part of an agreement announced last week, DuPage Medical Group and The South Bend Clinic, the largest multispecialty physician group in Indiana, said they would be collaborating on a “hub for regional expansion” that aims to increase access to affordable care and investment in local services and programs.

"This first-of-its-kind agreement will allow us to serve more patients and communities and address their needs by delivering the most progressive care possible," Steve Nelson, CEO of DuPage Medical Group, said in a statement. "Our partnership with The South Bend Clinic builds on our purpose-driven vision to transform healthcare by creating new pipelines for collaboration that empowers our physicians and associates to reimagine the delivery of care."

The partnership also marks the first time DuPage will be expanding its work across state lines.

A representative of DuPage avoided characterizing the arrangement as a merger and acquisition deal. The representative said the two physician-owned groups are not disclosing further details on the structure of their partnership other than that it would “fully leverage clinical best practices, shared capabilities and infrastructure” across the organizations.

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The announcement, however, notes that while Nelson and Clinical Board Chair Paul Merrick, M.D., will remain at the head of their organization, South Bend Clinic CEO Kelly Macken-Marble will be joining DuPage’s senior management team as a regional CEO.

Macken-Marble and South Bend's clinical board chair Brad Scott, M.D., will retain their positions at The South Bend Clinic. Both organizations will also have local clinical boards in place to oversee care quality, clinical best practices and other considerations.

Infrastructure, technology, expanded in-network capabilities and a shift toward value-based care were each highlighted in the announcement as strategic investment focuses for the new partners.

"We are excited about this transformative opportunity to partner with DuPage Medical Group to evolve and expand as an independent physician group and further our mission to provide high quality and affordable care options for our community," Macken-Marble said in a statement. "Together, we will drive increased collaboration and coordination that enhances the patient experience and helps ensure continued success and professional growth for our physicians and staff."

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DuPage Medical Group was founded in 1999 through the merger of three healthcare groups located in Chicago’s western suburbs. Now comprised of more than 700 physicians and over 4,500 associates, the group said it fields more than 2 million visits per year across 100-plus Illinois locations.

The South Bend Clinic is a primary and specialty care group practice founded in 1916. It’s swelled over the past century or so to almost 170 providers, and, in 2014, it formed a subsidiary accountable care organization to support preventive care and chronic disease management.

South Bend’s 11 locations are near Indiana’s northwest border with Michigan. Its westernmost site is located roughly 60 miles from the Illinois border, providing DuPage a relatively nearby foothold for its first foray into a neighboring state.

Provider consolidation has been rampant across healthcare organizations large and small over the past few years. Industry analysts have seen little reason for a slowdown—a late April report from Moody’s Investors Service, for instance, suggested both smaller hospitals and independent physicians' groups will likely be more open to partnerships and affiliation deals across the remainder of 2021 as they contend with the lingering impacts of COVID-19.