All 2021 and 2022 LG smart TVs will be equipped with a health education and telehealth app from the senior-focused health platform Independa, the company announced today. The platform will allow users to set up and have telehealth appointments through their TV.
While telehealth visits via apps on smartphones and computers have become normal for many patients during the pandemic, using a TV-sized screen to see a doctor can be helpful for people with eyesight issues, says Kian Saneii, Independa’s founder and CEO. It also makes it easier for doctors to ask people to stand up or show more of their body during the visit. “You can’t hold your phone out far enough to show the right thing,” he says. “Versus on the TV, you can walk around, you can bend your arm — the actual engagement becomes more effective.”
Users have to set up separate accounts with the on-demand doctor and dentist services on the Independa platform, and they’re prompted to do so through a QR code. Some people might be able to have their visit covered by insurance, but right now, most patients will pay a flat fee — $75 for a dentist’s call and around $55 for a doctor, Saneii says. That could be a barrier to some users. On-demand telehealth programs also often don’t connect back to patients’ medical records, which could make it difficult to pass information from those visits back to their regular doctors.
People who enable the Independa Health Hub on their TVs will also be able to message and video chat with friends and family members. LG integrated notifications directly into the TVs’ operating systems, so users who sign up with the Independa Health Hub will still get alerts even if they’re not actively using the app.
Users will get free access to a pharmacy benefit plan called Capital Rx, which offers discounts on prescriptions, and to video content geared towards older adults. For a fee, they can sign up for a network of wellness videos and a network of exercise videos.
Saneii stressed that Independa is not a monitoring system for older adults. Users can turn off or decline notifications, and a camera is only turned on if someone accepts or makes a call. “It’s always with dignity and respect,” he says.
Independa is platform-agnostic, and the company is in touch with other smart TV companies about similar integrations. However, the company is mainly interested in partners that would also integrate notifications directly into the TV to avoid an extra step for users, Saneii says.
Saneii declined to share any projections or goals for the number of people with LG TVs that might activate the Independa platform. “But we’re talking about millions of sets per year, and we’re talking about free benefits,” he says. “So we’re very hopeful that literally everyone turns on Independa that knows about it.”