best Buy Best known for installing TV and home theater systems. Now, its Geek Squad is helping set up virtual hospital rooms.
The consumer electronics retailer said Tuesday it has inked a three-year deal with Atrium Health, a North Carolina-based health care system, to help enable the hospital’s at-home program. Atrium Health is part of Advocate Health, one of the nation’s largest health care nonprofits.
Best Buy’s Geek Squad will visit patients’ homes, install technology that remotely monitors their heart rate, blood oxygen level or other vitals, and train the patient or others in the household how to use the equipment. . The data will then be securely shared with doctors and nurses through the telemedicine hub from Current Health.
Best Buy began setting up the virtual-care system in mid-February for 10 hospitals in and around Charlotte, North Carolina. The company said it aims to add about 100 patients to the program each day — roughly the equivalent of a medium-sized hospital but without the building.
Best Buy and Atrium did not disclose specific financial terms, but said that Atrium would purchase the device from Best Buy and use Geek Squad services for installation and recovery when the patient is released from care. Patients will pay for Atrium through their insurance, including Medicare or Medicaid.
Deborah Di Sanzo, president of Best Buy Health, said with the Geek Squad setup it leaves doctors and nurses free to focus on patients’ health.
“It facilitates the connection between technology and care,” she said.
For Best Buy, the hospital-at-home program represents the latest push to turn health care into a more meaningful revenue driver. Its health care expansion comes as sales of other consumer electronics slow.
including retailers such as Best Buy walmart And Target, have seen consumers buy fewer big-ticket and discretionary items because they pay more for food and lodging. Many consumers bought or upgraded their laptops, smartphones, kitchen appliances, and other similar products during the early years of the pandemic.
The retailer expects same-store sales to decline between 3% and 6% in the fiscal year, with most of the decline coming in the first six months.
In the past five years, Best Buy has acquired three health-care companies: GreatCall, which makes easy-to-use cell phones and connected health devices and provides emergency response services for aging adults; Critical Signal Technologies, another senior-focused company; and Current Health, a technology concern based in the United Kingdom that helps in remote patient monitoring and telehealth. Best Buy also sells health and wellness equipment, including hearing aids and fitness trackers.
On an earnings call last week, CEO Corey Barry said Best Buy expects sales in its health division to grow faster than the rest of its business this fiscal year.
Di Sanzo, however, noted the home care side of Best Buy’s health business is “still very nascent” and that revenue from it is “still very small.”
“We want to do this thoughtfully,” she said. “We want to do this well. We want to create pathways that enable home care in a more seamless way. We want to combine technology and empathy together and really help change how people how health care is provided in their homes.”
Dr. Rasu Shrestha, Chief Innovation and Commercialization Officer, Atrium, said that Atrium Health started its hospital-at-home program early in the pandemic, when Covid-sick patients crowded its hospitals, and its intensive care units were filled.
He said the health care system has seen that the program has lasting benefits and that it could work for patients with other types of conditions, such as those recovering from heart conditions, infections or surgery. He said it is less expensive than hospital care and allows patients to live surrounded by loved ones and the comforts of home.
Shrestha said the patients involved in the program are clinically stable. Some are discharged from the hospital or go directly to a hospital-at-home program after visiting the emergency room.
He added that so far Atrium Health has served more than 6,300 patients through the hospital-at-home program.