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You might trust the Geek Squad to mount your TV on the wall, but do you trust them to hook up your dialysis machine?
Best Buy announced on Tuesday it's teaming up with North Carolina healthcare system Atrium Health to install hospital-at-home equipment for patients. That means it will be sending out its trusty Geeks to set up devices that monitor things like your heart rate or blood oxygen level. At least they're already familiar with plasma... or was that plasma TVs?
We Are The Geek Squad And We're Coming To Heal
The current macroeconomic wilderness has left consumers with less cash to splash on a new TV, straining Best Buy's brick-and-mortar business, so getting into telemedicine makes sense. Plus, Best Buy has already made a few strategic acquisitions in the sector over the past five years.
The retailer-turned-healthcare provider space is starting to get a little crowded. Major pharmacy retailers including CVS and Walgreens, and the omnipresent omnichannel Amazon, have made in-roads into healthcare with their own multi-million-dollar acquisitions. But Best Buy is actually getting paid an undisclosed amount by Atrium to provide the requisite medical devices and installation service:
- The source of the money will come straight from the US government, as Atrium is a Medicare/Medicaid provider.
- Atrium developed its hospital-at-home system early in the pandemic and currently serves 6,300 patients, chief innovation and commercialization officer Dr. Rasu Shrestha told CNBC.
As attractive as the healthcare industry may look during a recession, a January report from seed fund Rock Health suggested overall funding in healthcare, particularly in digital health, has dried up a bit. "For the digital health sector, 2022 was a downhill ride -- one that we think signals the tail end of a macro funding cycle centered around the COVID-19-era investment boom," the report said. In other words, focusing on hardware is not a bad idea.
Health Guru Pikachu: Big Tech has invented a cornucopia of devices to watch how you eat, walk, sleep, and all-around exist. Now even Pokémon wants in, as it plans to release a new app this summer called Pokémon Sleep. The company says you can just place your smartphone on your pillow, or you can buy its handy GO Plus + (yes, that's two pluses) device to collect sleep data, and when you wake up you'll see which Pokémon have turned up while you slumbered. Gotta catch all the z's.