Best Buy is betting big on healthcare as it strikes deals with some of the nation’s largest hospital systems.
The company is partnering with several health systems, including Advocate Health, Geisinger Health and Mount Sinai Health System to expand its at-home care technology platform Current Health, which it acquired for $400 million in late 2021.
“We are excited about the momentum of care at home, but it is still a nascent emerging part of the healthcare industry,” CEO Corie Barry said on an earnings call with investors last week. “We are essentially nurturing a start-up within a large-scale organization and leveraging Best Buy’s core assets, including the Geek Squad, to incubate a new business.”
Best Buy tapped into healthcare in 2018 with its $800 million acquisition of GreatCall, which provides emergency response services to seniors. The next year, Best Buy bought remote monitoring company Critical Signal Technologies. Its 2021 deal with Current Health was a big bet for at-home services, building off of past investments and further solidifying the retailer’s presence in healthcare.
With one of its latest agreements, Best Buy will offer technology support to Charlotte-based Atrium Health, part of the newly formed Advocate Health, for its hospital-at-home program that launched in early 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Best Buy’s Geek Squad employees will deliver equipment and offer setup help in patients’ homes. The tech needs previously were handled within Atrium.
Atrium’s hospital-at-home program has served more than 6,300 patients and saved roughly 25,000 hospital bed days since launching, said Dr. Rasu Shrestha, Advocate Health’s chief innovation and commercialization officer. Providers help monitor patients remotely with cardiac issues, pneumonia, infections and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, among other conditions. If issues arise, patients are connected to Atrium’s care team.
“Best Buy Health brings in their strengths around really innovative, omnichannel experiences,” Shrestha said. “The reason we’re betting on this partnership is because we truly believe that we can bring so much to the table that is actually distinctly different, from not just what others are doing in the hospital-at-home space or the health-at-home space, but also really unique and what we actually need in service of the communities that we’re a part of.”
Shrestha said the goal is to eventually scale these services nationwide, including across Advocate’s Southeastern and Midwestern footprints.
Deborah Di Sanzo, president of Best Buy Health, declined to provide financial details of the Atrium deal, but she characterized it as “an equal partnership,” meant to simplify the at-home care process for patients.
New York-based Mount Sinai Health System partnered with Current Health on remote patient monitoring starting in 2020 and already monitors cancer patients at home. It is expanding to patients with hypertension and heart failure, said Dr. Arshad Rahim, senior vice president and chief medical officer for population health. The system is also looking at remote therapeutic monitoring, which tracks non-physiological data such as respiratory or musculoskeletal activity.
“It’s an easier way to scale disease management, especially when you’re managing populations. We manage over 400,000 lives at Mount Sinai Health System,” Rahim said. “[Current has] really been open to be not just a vendor but a care delivery partner with us, including discussing how we partner even further on populations where we take full financial risk.”
Geisinger is working with Best Buy to manage at-home care for patients with high-risk hypertension, diabetes and those recovering from sepsis, according to a spokesperson for the Danville, Pennsylvania-based system. Geisinger launched a pilot program with Geek Squad this year for in-home delivery and setup.
On the earnings call last week, Barry said Best Buy plans to grow sales in its healthcare division at a faster rate than the base business its fiscal year 2024, which ends in January. She said the division’s revenue contribution is small and it will take time to ramp up.
However, the company has no plans to move beyond its technical support role. “Best Buy is never going to deliver care.That’s not what Best Buy is about,” Di Sanzo said.
Best Buy is one of many retailers seizing opportunities in the healthcare space. In January, Dollar General launched three mobile healthcare clinics in Tennessee. The next month, CVS Health announced its $10.6 billion acquisition of primary care provider Oak Street Health, outlining plans to add 130 Oak Street sites by 2026. And last week, Walmart Health detailed its plans to add 28 new centers and expand into two new states.