Samsung partners with HealthTap to bring virtual primary care to smart TVs

Samsung is teaming up with a digital health company to bring virtual care into consumers' homes through their smart TVs.

Through a new partnership with virtual primary care company HealthTap, Samsung Smart TV users can connect to the company's healthcare platform and visit with a doctor of their choice using the built-in camera on their television, according to the companies in a press release.

Consumers can review doctor bios, credentials and video interviews to select a doctor and easily schedule an appointment, often within the same week. 

HealthTap developed its platform to provide members access to a long-term primary care doctor to address ongoing health conditions as well as preventive care and referrals. At a cost of $15 per month, consumers get access to free texting with their doctor, $39 video appointments and $59 visits for 24/7 urgent care with the first available clinic doctor. The platform also includes a network of 90,000 volunteer U.S. doctors across 147 specialties providing free informational answers to health questions from HealthTap members.

The company says it serves tens of millions of consumers online and provides many thousands of doctor visits each year. The company has raised $88 million to date, according to Crunchbase.

“Developing a primary care relationship is critical for all Americans, and the ability to conveniently access telemedicine through a TV screen empowers everyone to take care into their own hands,” said Sean Mehra, CEO and founder of HealthTap, in a statement. “Together with Samsung, we are leveraging the simplicity and power of technology to make it easier for Americans to get the healthcare they need without the worries of transportation, work conflicts or lack of available physicians in their area.”

In a recent podcast interview on the "Health Tech Spotlight" podcast, Mehra said HealthTap addresses a gap in virtual care as telehealth historically has focused on urgent care visits.

"What is missing from the telehealth conversation today is that personal relationship" with a doctor, he said. "I believe that's the root cause of why telehealth has had somewhat low engagement. I think the biggest catalyst to that is enabling consumers to establish a relationship with the same doctor."

He added, "Telehealth has had low engagement because the approach that telehealth is taking today ignores the opportunity to reach Americans and improve their health situation in two fundamental ways. [Urgent care] is not a frequent utility, whereas an ongoing conversation with your doctor often has multiple touch points, especially if you have an ongoing condition that you're managing." 

HealthTap also addresses affordability and access by building an "affordable" virtual primary care practice that can serve healthcare consumers who don't have insurance or are underinsured, he said. 

"What we said was, 'what if we reach Americans directly and price it in a way that is affordable regardless if you have the benefit, regardless if your insurance is going to cover it, regardless of whether or not you have insurance?' So maybe we can equal the playing field of who can afford access to a primary care doctor," Mehra said.
Electronics giant Samsung has been expanding its reach in healthcare with mobile devices and hardware for hospitals, home health and remote patient monitoring. At the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society global conference this year, the company unveiled a new smart healthcare TV and digital health solutions for hospitals.

The electronics company also has been eyeing big business opportunities to leverage its technologies to help aging seniors live healthy at home.

"We're in the home with mobile devices, TVs and appliances, and we see the collision of healthcare happening in the home," Hon Pak, M.D., chief medical officer at Samsung Electronics, said at the SXSW 2022 conference this year.

Pak said Samsung wants to build an ecosystem of partners among digital health companies that can build applications for its wearables and devices.

Samsung's partnership with HealthTap to enable smart TV users to access virtual care services at home represents another opportunity to reach the senior population, which comprises one of Samsung’s largest purchaser segments, the company said.

“This collaboration represents the joining of two powerful and loyal consumer brands: Samsung, the leader in consumer electronics and innovations, and HealthTap, a beloved, consumer-centric virtual care platform, to improve healthcare access and health outcomes through the delivery of telemedicine in Samsung devices,” said Sean Park, project management at Samsung, in a statement.