A Medical Device Daily

Aetna (Hartford, Connecticut) and WellStar Health System (Marietta, Georgia) have reached agreement on a three-year contract that provides access for Aetna's Medicare Advantage members to the hospital's facilities and physicians.

Under this new agreement, Aetna Medicare Advantage plan members will be able to receive covered services, at in-network rates, from WellStar facilities in the greater Atlanta area. Earlier this year, Aetna and WellStar reached agreement on a contract that applied to members of Aetna's commercial plans. Aetna members also will be able to continue receiving covered services from WellStar physicians.

"Aetna is very pleased to expand its relationship with WellStar," said Ramzy Elgomayel, Aetna's VP of network operations for Georgia. "WellStar has provided excellent care to our commercial-plan members for several years, and we're delighted to be able offer in-network access to their facilities and providers for our Medicare Advantage plan members."

"The expansion of the Aetna contract to cover the Medicare Advantage members further solidifies our relationship," said Barbara Corey, senior vice president of managed care for WellStar. "We look forward to providing exceptional healthcare services to these members."

Aetna provides health benefits to about 600,000 members in Georgia. Those members have access to a network that includes 80 contracted hospitals and more than 9,500 primary care physicians and specialists.

In other agreements and contracts news:

• NeuroVigil (San Diego) and Roche (Basel, Switzerland) reported signing an agreement regarding a major innovation in collecting and analyzing data from clinical trials. NeuroVigil will provide Roche with its iBrain devices and accompanying software analysis services to help speed up Roche's drug development for various central nervous system disorders. NeuroVigil's advanced portable, noninvasive iBrain devices will be used to monitor neural activity in outpatient clinical trials. NeuroVigil will analyze the resulting data on a patient-by-patient basis using the NeuroVigil proprietary software algorithms and brain derived biomarker libraries to further characterize the compounds from Roche. These services will enable Roche to detect subtle individual changes in brain activity at very low drug dosages, often before the onset of cognitive symptoms and adverse effects.

With financial backing from a leading nonprofit supporter of military medical research, medical device manufacturer Neuro Kinetics (Pittsburgh) reported that it is collaborating with the U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory (USAARL; Fort Rucker, Alabama) and three other military medical facilities in a comprehensive research project to improve early diagnosis and treatment of mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBI). The coordinated research focuses on using Neuro Kinetics' I-Portal Neuro-Otologic Test Center system to evaluate and characterize vestibular, auditory and oculomotor conditions in soldiers suffering from hard-to-detect mTBI as a result of blast exposure. An estimated 20% of soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq suffer from mTBI. The other military medical facilities in the research project are Tripler Army Medical Center (Hawaii), The Traumatic Brain Injury Warrior Resilience and Recovery Center at Fort Campbell (Kentucky) and Walter Reed Army Medical Center (Washington). The project is expected to run until July 2010.

• Patient Portal Technologies (Baldwinsville, New York) reported that its TB&A Television Services subsidiary has been awarded a multi-year, $500,000 contract from Miriam Hospital (Providence, Rhode Island), part of the five-hospital Lifespan health system, to provide leased television equipment, installation and maintenance services.

• Environmental Tectonics' (Southampton, Pennsylvania) BioMedical Division reported a record month for sales of their Baramed monoplace chambers. Dave Mitchell, vice president of ETC Controls Group, said, "A total of 15 chambers have been sold within the last 30 day period. While our industry is not immune to the current economic conditions, this record performance reflects the technological superiority of our chamber and the versatility of our operating system for control and record keeping system."