Popular consumer electronics retailer, Best Buy, has announced a three-year deal with Atrium Health, a North Carolina-based healthcare system part of Advocate Health—one of the country’s largest healthcare nonprofits. Under the deal, Best Buy’s Geek squad will assist in deploying healthcare technology such as remote heart rate monitors in patient homes.
Geek Squad will also provide training to patients and those watching over them for using the devices. The data, according to Best Buy, will then be shared securely with doctors and nurses through a telemedicine hub provided by Current Health, which Best Buy acquired in 2021.
The overarching goal of the program will be to facilitate a ‘hospital-at-home’ style of care for specific patients and offer a far cheaper alternative to hospital stays for lower risk patients.
According to Dr. Rasu Shrestha chief innovation and commercialization officer at Atrium, the healthcare system saw potential in what began out of necessity to combat overcrowding during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is ultimately what prompted the Best Buy partnership.
It costs less than hospital care and allows patients to recover while surrounded by loved ones and the comforts of home, he said.
Best Buy Seeks Diversification in Declining Consumer Electronics Market
Best Buy states it began setting up the requisite systems for virtual care back in mid-February for 10 hospitals within the Charlotte, North Carolina area. It projects that at full capacity, its systems will be supporting roughly 100 patients daily, described as being the capacity of a midsized hospital.
When speaking on the topic, Best Buy Health’s President Deborah Di Sanzo said that the agreement will leave doctors and nurses free to focus on the health of the patients while Geek Squad helps with the set-up and maintenance.
Part of the Atrium Health deal will also be supported by Boston, UK-based telehealth and remote monitoring company Current Health, which Best Buy acquired in for $400M. The company is one of several healthcare purchases Best Buy has made within the last five years.
Other purchases include GreatCall, a manufacturer of connected health devices and provider of emergency response services and Critical Signal Technologies, a senior-focused healthcare company.
The news comes following yet another decline in sales for the retail chain, with another 3% to 6% drop expected within the first six months of this month.
Best Buy, however is neither the only retailer struggling post pandemic, nor is its deal with Atrium Health the only instance of consumer electronics cross-pollinating with healthcare technologies.
The former Sound United, a collective of audio electronic manufacturers, has just completed its rebranding to Masimo Consumer following its acquisition by medical technology company, Masimo.
The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has also seen a growing digital health presence over the years, with Abbott, another healthcare technology company, having delivered the opening keynote for 2022’s tradeshow. This presentation coincided with the company’s announcement of its own lineup of home healthcare devices.
In a recent earnings call, CEO Corie Barry has stated that Best Buy expects sales from its growing health division to grow faster than the rest of its business this fiscal year.
Di Sanzo, however, has noted that the size of Best Buy’s operation remains in its early stages(“nascent” as she would describe). She also stated that its earnings, likewise, are still “very small.”
“We want to do this thoughtfully,” she said. “We want to do this well. We want to create pathways that enable care at home in a more seamless manner. We want to tie technology and empathy together and really help change how health care is delivered to people in their homes.”
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