Aetna, a diversified health care benefits company, has entered into an agreement to acquire Utah-based Medicity, a health information exchange technology company for appriximately $500m.

Medicity will operate as a separate business within Aetna, under its existing leadership structure.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including Hart-Scott-Rodino antitrust regulatory approval. The transaction is projected to be neutral to Aetna’s financial results in 2011.

Medicity offers products and services that enable health systems, hospitals, physician practices and health information exchanges to securely access and exchange health care information.

Aetna CEO and president Mark Bertolini said that this acquisition will enable Aetna to offer a set of convenient, easy-to-access technology solutions for physicians, hospitals and other health care providers. 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,” Bertolini said.