Aetna, a Health Technology (and Insurance) Company

Inexx, a health information technology platform by Medicity, recently launched its first payer app, Aetna ConnectSM, an application that makes it easier for health care providers to manage communications with Aetna. The release is a small part of a larger effort by Aetna, which acquired Medicity last year, to move from being known as an insurance company to being known as an insurance company that offers a variety of health technology services.

Medicity, a provider of health information exchange technology, developed iNexx to help developers create online and mobile apps to perform very specific functions. Aetna ConnectSM is an example this kind of targeted app. As an an alternative to direct mail, email and fax between practices and Aetna, it’s designed to make communications faster, consolidated and more organized. Updates and changes in health plans are prone to getting lost in the shuffle of letters and email, but the app is made to deliver information in a clear and quick way.

Other apps from iNexx include an eReferrals solution and a suite of Meaningful Use apps. The goal is for iNexx to evolve into a health care application store for both providers and patients ― and not just those who work with Aetna.

“Aetna is very intrigued by providing it to other payers as well to create a sort of streamlined communications channel to the providers space,” Robert Connely, senior vice president of innovation and strategy at Medicity, said of ConnectSM. Connely points to this kind of collaboration as one way payers can work together to lower overall health care costs. What’s encouraging is that they’re open to doing it. “Apparently payers work a lot closer together than I originally thought,” Connely said.

iNexx will also create an opportunity for more development of potentially universal apps when it opens its software development kit to the public. This is something that iNexx plans to do soon, CEO and President of Aetna Mark Bertolini said at the September Health 2.0 Conference. The hope is that third party developers will more rapidly design and test new apps than they would without the availability of a platform, as creating apps from the ground up can be costly and time consuming. Platforms take care of about 80% of the work a developer has to do, Connely said.

Bertolini spoke with Health 2.0’s Matthew Holt (shown in the video above) about Aetna’s HIT plans at the conference. “We’re evolving into a technology services company that has a big insurance vehicle attached to it,” he told Holt. He also said that Aetna had spent about $1.6 billion in the past six months on new acquisitions associated with health information technology. The second half of the video features a demo of iNexx, just one of the acquisitions Aetna hopes will lead it to become a force in the HIT world.

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