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    Beth Israel, New England Baptist in joint venture to provide orthopedic care

    A year after they opened talks about collaborating on clinical and community programs, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and New England Baptist Hospital have struck a joint venture to provide orthopedic care.

    The two Boston hospitals said Wednesday that their agreement fell short of a merger and they would continue to operate as independent institutions.

    Details of the joint venture weren’t spelled out in a statement released by the two hospitals. But in the initial phase, they said, they would develop a “clinical integration strategy and plan for growth.”

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    Part of that strategy will involve working together to provide orthopedic care through an expanding network of community hospitals and physicians that Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess has been building.

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    The two hospitals will also be increasing referrals to one another and, eventually, work together to establish a prominent orthopedic program in Eastern Massachusetts and beyond. But in the short term, each will be providing orthopedic services at their own hospitals.

    Beth Israel Deaconess and New England Baptist, which specializes in orthopedic surgery, both are members of CareGroup Healthcare System. That hospital and physicians network was formed in 1996 to compete with Boston’s Partners HealthCare System, an organization created through the merger of Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s hospitals.

    But unlike the Partners hospitals, CareGroup members were unable to work out common administrative and clinical functions. CareGroup never formally dissolved, but exists today primarily as a bond-holding organization.

    Robert Weisman can be reached at robert.weisman@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeRobW.