- Consumer electronics giant Best Buy is looking to healthcare and the elderly to help fuel future growth, its CEO told investors on an earnings call May 24.
- Hubert Joly said the company is “testing a service called Assured Living to help the aging population stay healthy at home with assistance from technology products and services.”
- The company, which already sells medical alert systems and senior-friendly phones, sees health and wellness as key business focus along with entertainment, productivity and communication, Joly said.
Remote monitoring for the elderly is not a new idea, but getting technology to seniors on a large scale could address growing demand for devices and services that help older people age in place.
More than 10,000 Americans are aging into Medicare every day. At the same time, nearly 90% of older Americans want to stay in their homes as long as possible and 80% expect to live the rest of their lives in their current residence, according to AARP.
Swelling in numbers of elderly has sparked a number of startups, as well as interest from larger tech companies. Technologies that promote aging in place include remote sensors, connected scales and blood pressure cuffs, apps for medication adherence, voice command technologies and telemedicine.
For example, MobiHelp makes the Anywhere Help Button, a mobile GPS emergency response system that allows users to call for help anywhere and anytime just by pressing a button. Another startup, Reemo, uses wearables and smart home technology to capture a person’s steps, heart rate, sleep patterns and other motions in real-time and relay the information to caregiver or provider through a dashboard.
“A lot of healthcare is going to move to digital medicine through the home platform, Arta Bakshandeh, senior medical officer at Alignment Healthcare, told Healthcare Dive in a recent interview.
Best Buy’s foray into healthcare echoes other recent efforts to reach more patients by combining health services with popular retail locations. CVS Health and Aetna have pitched their $69 billion merger plan as a way to streamline the patient experience and expand access to high-quality care in convenient, low-cost settings.
Meanwhile, Walmart is reportedly in early talks to acquire Humana, a move that could create cost-effective opportunities especially in underserved rural areas. Humana is the second largest provider of Medicare Advantage plans, with 3.5 million enrollees and 4.9 million in Part D drug plans. Walmart — with 1.5 million employees and more than 5,000 stores — already operates pharmacies and primary care clinics, and is working on offering laboratory tests as well.