ProHealth Care will contract with UW Health to oversee the medical care at its new cancer center scheduled to open this year in Pewaukee.
The agreement announced Thursday could lead to more services being available in Waukesha County.
It also will enable ProHealth to draw on the expertise of the doctors at the Carbone Cancer Center in Madison and the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.
"From our perspective, our goal and vision has been to remain an independent organization," said Susan Edwards, chief executive officer of ProHealth. "That being said, any time we can do things to strengthen what we bring to this community, we certainly will look to partners."
The agreement could make it easier for some cancer patients to get care in the Waukesha area. For example, UW doctors in Madison who specialize in specific types of cancers could see patients one day a week or so in Pewaukee.
Another potential benefit is better coordination when a patient is referred to UW Health in Madison.
"It really is trying to provide better, more streamlined care for patients," Edwards said.
The Carbone Cancer Center is one of 41 comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute.
ProHealth's new cancer center, projected to cost $70 million when announced, is scheduled to open in August. The center is on a 14-acre site along Pewaukee Road, just north of I-94.
Affiliating with an academic medical center could help ProHealth compete with Froedtert Health and the Medical College of Wisconsin. Froedtert Hospital, the academic medical center of the Medical College, has the largest market share in cancer care in the Milwaukee area.
ProHealth also has contracted with Indiana University to oversee its cardiothoracic surgery program.
The administrative director and the medical director of the cancer program will be UW Health employees. The eight oncologists employed by ProHealth will work under the umbrella of the UW Health program.
"Our physicians have been very receptive to this relationship that we've created with UW," Edwards said.
UW Health also has partnerships with Beloit Health System; with FHN, a health care system based in Freeport, Ill.; and with the former Riverview Hospital Association, now part of Aspirus in Wausau.
In addition, the UW Cancer Center Johnson Creek is a partnership of Fort HealthCare in Fort Hays, UW Health Partners Watertown Regional Medical Center and UW Health.
Several cancer specialists who work in Waukesha and are employed by Aurora Health Care also will practice at ProHealth's new cancer center and work under UW Health.
ProHealth, Aurora and UW Health are members of abouthealth, a statewide network of health systems that plan to work together to improve quality and lower costs as well as contract with health insurers.
"It's a collaboration that we feel is in the best interests of the community and the patients we collectively serve," Edwards said.