IPC The Hospitalist Co. Inc. has signed an agreement to provide acute care doctor services at nine hospitals owned by Steward Health Care System LLC in Massachusetts. The North Hollywood physicians group previously had a contract to provide doctors at one Steward hospital. The expansion to nine hospitals will bring about 150,000 additional patient visits annually, the company estimated. As part of the deal, IPC will acquire Steward’s hospitalist doctors group. “The Steward-IPC partnership represents a significant opportunity for IPC to bring systemic improvements to the quality and efficiency of care,” Dr. Adam Singer, chief executive of IPC, said in a statement. “IPC is very pleased to expand our relationship with Steward while welcoming the SMG hospitalists to the IPC family.” Shares of IPC closed up 25 cents or less than 1 percent to $51.97 in trading on the Nasdaq.