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An all-in-one social, telehealth solution to help seniors age in place attracts $5M – and big name partners

3:51 pm by | 0 Comments

The fact that seniors don’t use mobile phones or the internet to the same extent as younger generations hasn’t stopped the healthcare industry from focusing technological innovation on the 65+ population, which in the U.S. is expected to be over 71 million by 2030.

One California startup called Independa is working with partners like LG, Qualcomm Life and Telcare to use cloud-based technology to help seniors remain independent without being socially isolated.

Independa announced today that it closed a $5 million series A from previous investor City Hill Ventures, strategic partner LG Electronics USA and additional investors. The funding round, which also includes conversion of convertible notes totaling $2.35 million, will help Independa grow its customer base, partnerships and distribution for its comprehensive social engagement technology.

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The Angela Personal Interaction Device is actually a platform that can be used on tablets, iPhones and, thanks to a strategic partnership with LG that’s being piloted at three senior care communities, in commercial TVs. It serves as a single point of communication where seniors can receive emails and calendar reminders, share photos, play games, browse the web and video chat with family, friends and caregivers with a single touch. The calendar functions can be managed by the caregiver, who can enter medications, appointments and birthdays through a web browser.

“We think that it’s necessary to have a comprehensive technology solution that addresses real health concerns by keeping people outside of the healthcare system,” Independa CEO Kian Saneii said. “It’s a partner solution; we engage a circle of care as part of the same system.”

A new add-on uses wireless technology from Qualcomm Life Inc. to pull in data from monitoring devices like scales, glucometers and blood pressure cuffs from Telcare and IDEAL LIFE. That way, seniors and caregivers can use a single device to monitor information from numerous medical devices (similar to what AirStrip Technologies would do for a hospital). It also uses GreatCall’s 5Star Urgent Response System.

And there’s more technology and distribution partnerships on the way, according to Saneii. He said some additional announcements will be made at the Consumer Electronics Show next week. “That’s going to be an evolving part of our platform benefits and is a key advantage that we have,” he said.

Independa was founded in 2009 by Saneii, a computer scientist and former software executive, who saw how time consuming and complex caregiving was in his own family. He knew technology could help bridge some of the gaps, so he took his idea to design firm IDEO. “They came back and said there was a big opportunity,” he said. “Everyone was touching this elephant form their own vantage point, but no one was looking at it holistically.”

The San Diego-based company raised a $1.6 million seed round from Miramar Venture Partners and City Hill Ventures in 2011.

Because it’s aimed at maintaining seniors’ wellbeing and keeping them out of the healthcare system, there hasn’t historically been reimbursement codes for social engagement platforms, but Saneii sees it just as much of a healthcare product as anything else. After all, social isolation has long been viewed as a threat to seniors’ physical and mental health with links to depression and cognitive decline.

“I do think that ultimately the cost curve will change quite a bit when more people get paid in smart ways to keep people out of our problematic and expensive system,” he said.

[Photo from Independa]

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Deanna Pogorelc

By Deanna Pogorelc MedCity News

Deanna Pogorelc is a Cleveland-based reporter who writes obsessively about life science startups across the country, looking to technology transfer offices, startup incubators and investment funds to see what’s next in healthcare. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ball State University and previously covered business and education for a northeast Indiana newspaper.
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