Forget about fixing personal computers. Best Buy’s Geek Squad is taking its talents into the home to connect remote patient monitoring devices with hospitals.
Like many other traditional retail companies, the Richfield, Minnesota-based company is staking its claim in healthcare. Executives are confident about plans to sell at-home healthcare technology and service to hospitals and insurance companies, but regulatory challenges and long sales cycles could be roadblocks in its path to success.
“As a consumer-oriented company, they’ve historically been focused on consumers and consumer electronics. Shifting to a strategy where you need to sell into enterprise customers, and enterprises where the sales cycle is almost a year, that's got to be difficult,” said Sari Kaganoff, general manager of consulting at Rock Health, a digital health advisory firm.
Best Buy’s expansion into healthcare hasn’t happened overnight. It has acquired GreatCall, a mobile medical alert company, for $800 million in 2018; Critical Signal Technologies, a senior remote monitoring service, in 2019 for an undisclosed amount; and Current Health, a hospital-at-home tech company, for $400 million in October 2021. Deborah DiSanzo, formerly a general manager at IBM Watson Health, was hired to lead its health division in September 2020.
Best Buy Health’s chief operating officer, Chemu Langat, said the company knows what it’s good at and hasn’t shied away from its roots.
“We’re not a healthcare provider,” said Langat, who came to Best Buy in June 2021 from Medtronic. “We are the plumbing that connects this ecosystem of care. It’s not necessarily the sexiest part of healthcare, but one of the most fundamental gaps that we have today.”
Virtual care ambitions
Langat said Best Buy is leaning into core capabilities of supply chain and logistics, data analytics and consumer wellness products. The company sells heart monitors, blood pressure monitors, wearables and connected fitness devices. It also started selling over-the-counter hearing aids in mid-October. In its third quarter earnings call, CEO Corie Sue Barry said Best Buy would sell hearing aids in more than 300 stores and had introduced an online hearing assessment tool.