AKRON -- According to a statement released Monday afternoon, the Cleveland Clinic and Akron General Health System have signed a Letter of Intent to enter into an arrangement in which Cleveland Clinic will invest in and become a minority owner of Akron General Health System.

That makes Akron General its exclusive health system partner in Summit County.

This will combine the clinical expertise and resources of Cleveland Clinic and Akron General to strengthen and improve access to high-quality, affordable healthcare services for patients in the region, according to the release.

"We know how important the health of Akron General is to the people of Summit County and the surrounding area. This agreement demonstrates our commitment to keeping Akron General strong in today's ever-changing healthcare environment and to positioning Akron General as a leader in value-based care," said Toby Cosgrove, M.D., President and CEO, Cleveland Clinic.

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The statement reads:

"This agreement has been a long time in the making, and through the process, we have come to truly understand and respect each other's strengths. We know that it is the right fit for both of our organizations and the communities we serve."

Both organizations are committed to the development of a long-term, mutually beneficial partnership that will grow over time.

"I have said publicly that Akron General would take the requisite time to find the very best arrangement. I am thrilled to say that this agreement meets that lofty standard," said Thomas L. "Tim" Stover, M.D., MBA, President and CEO, Akron General Health System. "There is no better healthcare organization with which to partner than Cleveland Clinic. Their reputation for providing World Class Care combined with Akron General's extraordinary clinical programs will provide the people of Summit County an unprecedented level of care close to home."

A key part of the relationship will bring the opportunity for physicians in Akron to participate in Cleveland Clinic's Quality Alliance. The Quality Alliance enables collaboration between independent and employed physicians to improve quality of care, reduce costs and increase efficiency, and provide access to expertise, data and experience.

The two systems will also work together on other opportunities to improve care and services to the community.

As a provision of the agreement, Cleveland Clinic will make a substantial capital investment in Akron General Health System. In addition, the organizations will have representation on the other's Board. It was important to both organizations that there continue to be Akron-based governance and management leadership.