Healthcare Business News

Aetna sued in health IT patent dispute

By Joseph Conn
Posted: December 13, 2012 - 2:00 pm ET

HealthTrio, a developer of health information technology for payers, providers and consumers, has sued Aetna and two of its technology subsidiaries, ActiveHealth Management and Medicity, for infringement of 10 software patents, the Denver-based company announced.

ActiveHealth provides Aetna customers with a Web-based personal health record and claims administration software; Medicity is the developer of a system for health information exchange used by state, regional and local information-exchange organizations as well as providers. Aetna acquired ActiveHealth in 2005 and Medicity in 2011, continuing a trend by healthcare payers to beef up on technology firms in the advent of the expected expansion of accountable care organizations and patient-centered medical homes, particularly after passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

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According to its lawsuit, HealthTrio demonstrated its software to Aetna in 2007, but no agreement was reached.

Since then, HealthTrio alleges, the defendants have either knowingly infringed upon or been "willfully blind" to the fact that they infringed upon HealthTrio patents. In addition, according to HealthTrio, they have induced customers to infringe on those patents that cover products for consumer personal health-record systems, claims handling, data normalization and the use of medical records for analyzing the effectiveness of medical treatments and procedures.

Aetna spokeswoman Cynthia Michener said the company is "reviewing the claims in the complaint and intends to defend the case vigorously."

HealthTrio argues that it is entitled to unspecified damages, "but no less than a reasonable royalty" as well as enhanced damages for "willful patent infringement," its legal costs and a permanent injunction against "further acts of patent infringement."

HealthTrio said also in its lawsuit that its claim for patent protection stems from applications filed on Oct. 11, 2000, but the 10 final patents themselves were issued by the U.S. Patent Office over dates from fall 2008 to November of this year.

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