The number of technologies geared toward senior care seems to grow by the day. Now, electronics retail giant Best Buy Co. (NYSE: BBY) is getting in on the action.
Recently, Best Buy began selling an entry-level package of its own remote-monitoring equipment geared toward seniors aging at home, as well as their loved ones who want to keep an eye on them from afar, Bloomberg reports.
The need for this technology stems from an inadequate number of communities to care for seniors, as well as seniors’ general desire to age in their own homes, according to Dr. Rhonda Randall, chief medical officer of UnitedHealthcare Retiree Solutions. UnitedHealthcare is working with Best Buy to provide wellness coaching to seniors in Denver who purchase Best Buy’s equipment.
“We don’t have enough long term care facilities to take care of people, and 90% of seniors want to stay at home,” Randall tells Bloomberg.
Currently, Best Buy’s equipment itself costs $389.96, while installation by Best Buy’s Geek Squad tech-support crew costs $199. The actual remote monitoring service costs $29 per month.
Best Buy is marketing its technology and remote monitoring service under a new unit called “Assured Living.” Presently, the products are available in two test markets: Denver and the Twin Cities. If the products perform well in these markets, it’s possible that the company will introduce a larger business of sensor-based senior services in health-and-wellness departments in the retailer’s more than 1,000 locations, Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly tells Bloomberg.
Still, the Denver and Twin Cities pilot markets are key when it comes to helping Best Buy determine if there is a “unique role [it] can play in supporting aging-in-place options,” Matthew Smith, external communications specialist at Best Buy, said in an e-mail to Senior Housing News.
The retailer currently has plenty of competition in the geriatric care space—and it already sells various competitors’ products in its stores. San Diego-based GreatCall, for instance, has sold senior-friendly medical alert devices and phones at Best Buy locations for approximately 10 years.
Still, Joly believes the geriatric-care market is a “white space waiting to be captured,” he tells Bloomberg. Best Buy’s entry into the market is exciting others, as well.
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“More and more [companies] are realizing that a significant part of their business plan has to be focused on the aging population, and I think it’s great that somebody like Best Buy is looking at that,” John Hopper, chief investment officer at Chicago-based specialty investment bank Ziegler, told SHN.
To learn more, head to Bloomberg.
Written by Mary Kate Nelson