Aetna Boosts Electronic Health Records Offerings with Medicity Acquisition

By buying HIE provider Medicity for $500 million, Aetna is enabling medical professionals to have greater access to patient information.

Health plan firm Aetna has purchased HIE (health information exchange) provider Medicity for about $500 million to allow doctors and hospitals greater access to electronic health records across multiple networks, Aetna reports.

Medicity operates one of the largest enterprise HIEs and is available to 760 hospitals, 125,000 physician users and 250,000 users, Aetna reports.

The HIE provider will remain its own unit within Aetna, a health benefits provider serving 35.4 million people.

In a company blog post, Medicity said that regulations by the federal government for reimbursement and mandates for reform are leading to a trend of convergence in the health care industry.

In addition, combining medical and financial data within one company allows for ACOs (accountable care organizations) to develop, according to Medicity, which is based in Salt Lake City.

"Organizations like ACOs must actively oversee and coordinate best practices among participating providers to improve clinical outcomes while rewarding providers for preventative care and cost-effectiveness," Medicity wrote in its post. "Significantly, ACOs will administer payment distribution and reimbursement among participating entities, requiring oversight of both financial and clinical information."

Mergers in health care also are important for the growth of PCMHs (patient-centered medical homes), Medicity wrote.

"This acquisition will enable Aetna to offer a set of convenient, easy-to-access technology solutions for physicians, hospitals and other health care providers," Mark T. Bertolini, Aetna's CEO and president, said in a statement. "That, in turn, can help improve the quality and efficiency of patient care. Strategically, we believe this acquisition will enhance Aetna's capabilities and accelerate our growth in the health information technology and health information exchange space."

Medicity offers a product called iNexx, a Web-based open platform for health care IT app design and delivery.

"The combination of Medicity's connected health care platform for providers with the clinical decision support capabilities of Aetna's ActiveHealth Management subsidiary can help physicians make better decisions in real-time as they collaborate and coordinate care," Dr. James K. Lassetter, Medicity's chairman and CEO, said in a statement.

The Dec. 7 acquisition came about four months after UnitedHealthcare's health care IT unit Ingenix purchased HIE provider Axolotl.

"In just a few short months these two payers have completely changed the landscape of the HIE market by acquiring the two leading HIE vendors in the market today," wrote John Moore, a Chilmark Research analyst, in a blog post.

Having quick access to patient records across multiple databases in HIEs leads to more effective and more-informed patient care.

"HIEs are bringing us closer to the point where all the health care professionals patients select to oversee their care can connect to share information and optimize outcomes," Andy Slavitt, CEO of Ingenix, said in an Aug. 16 statement at the time of the announcement.

The Axolotl Elysium Exchange networks are used by close to 30,000 doctors, 100,000 health care professionals, more than 200 hospitals and four statewide HIEs, according to the Aug. 16 release.

In November, Aetna announced a plan to build an HIE in Puerto Rico with IBM and Medens, a cloud computing and health IT company.

On Aug. 5, Aetna's ActiveHealth Management subsidiary launched a cloud-based patient record service called Collaborative Care.