Best Buy bears down on at-home health tech investments
Is Best Buy a healthcare technology company? At least in part, yes, and the $50 billion retailer plans to channel more funds into healthcare-specific investments.
During Best Buy’s second fiscal quarter 2023 earnings call, CEO Corie Barry highlighted the company’s consumer health business, Best Buy Health: “During the second quarter, we continued to see strong revenue growth in new signups for our active-aging business that offers health and safety solutions to enable adults to live and thrive at home.”
A year after acquiring Current Health, a care-at-home technology provider, Best Buy has the means to help healthcare organizations get actionable, real-time insights into patients’ conditions. Current Health’s platform integrates patient-reported data with indicators from continuously monitored wearable devices. Customizable clinical algorithms identify individual patients’ clinical needs that can be managed remotely. In-home care services can also be coordinated through the platform.
“We are very focused on successfully implementing the large U.S. health system accounts that have been won recently, including NYU Langone Health for hospital-at-home and Mount Sinai Health System for chronic disease management,” Barry commented. “We are also making progress leveraging our Best Buy capabilities in this space. Our Geek Squad team successfully completed additional health training and launched a new pilot service with Geisinger Health.”
Barry cautioned, however, that virtual care’s current revenue contribution to Best Buy is small and will take time to ramp up given long return-on-investment (ROI) cycles in healthcare.
Outside of health system partnerships, Current Health is also working with AstraZeneca to deliver complex drug therapy into the home and support home-based clinical trials.
Direct-to-consumer at-home health efforts
In a March 2022 presentation to financial analysts and investors, Best Buy Health president Deborah Di Sanzo said the company’s strategy for enabling care at home encompasses consumer health, active aging and virtual care. “We recognize an $80 billion market opportunity for health technology and the desire for consumers to use technology to manage their health,” Di Sanzo said.
Best Buy’s consumer health foray began in 2018, when the company bought an urgent-response service for seniors called GreatCall. The service, now branded as Lively, connects users with an agent who assesses whether the call is an emergency, and dispatches medical personnel when needed. Best Buy recently announced that Lively is now accessible through Amazon’s Alexa smart speakers in addition to Jitterbug phones and Apple Watch devices.
In a separate development, last month the FDA authorized retailers to sell hearing aids directly to consumers without a prescription, exam, or audiologist fitting. Within a week of the FDA ruling, Best Buy began offering hearing devices online and in nearly 300 stores across the country. Competitors include CVS, Hy-Vee, Walgreens, and Walmart.
Frank Irving is a Philadelphia-based content writer and communications consultant specializing in healthcare and technology.