As at-home healthcare becomes more tech-driven—think wireless biosensors and connected blood pressure cuffs—it creates more logistical challenges for providers.
This is where Best Buy Health sees an opportunity for its Geek Squad, historically known more for fixing computers than working with patients.
A year ago, Danville, Pennsylvania-based Geisinger launched a pilot program to deploy Geek Squad agents to patients' homes to help install and set up healthcare devices and educate patients about the technology. That program, involving 300 Geisinger patients living with chronic conditions, has resulted in quicker access to care, better adherence to care plans and more positive outcomes for chronic care patients, according to Karen Murphy, Ph.D., executive vice president, chief innovation officer and founding director of the Steele Institute for Health Innovation at Geisinger.
By working with Best Buy and its Geek Squad, Geisinger was able to cut in half the time from admission into the chronic care at-home program to when device setup is completed for the patient. That process used to take 96 hours, and the program reduced that time to 48 hours, according to the health system. This makes it faster for Geisinger care teams to begin monitoring the patient remotely.
Results from the pilot program found a 19% improvement in how well patients follow their care plans by wearing and using their remote technology equipment more consistently. Patients in the program also reported fewer technical issues, down 18% compared to before the pilot with Best Buy.
While in the home, Geek Squad agents educate patients on the technology in their care plan, answer questions about the devices, explain how to use them properly and ensure they are transmitting data back to the patients' care teams. Agents also remain on standby to help with troubleshooting as needed and to collect and process all devices once patients are discharged from the program by their care teams.
Best Buy has been ramping up its healthcare strategy with a focus on senior and elder care technologies and digital health solutions. Two years ago, the retailer spent nearly $400 million to acquire remote patient monitoring technology vendor Current Health.
In 2018, Best Buy shelled out $800 million cash for Great Call, a provider of connected health and personal emergency response services to the aging population, with more than 900,000 paying subscribers. The company also has partnerships with telehealth company TytoCare for its remote medical exam kit, in-home healthcare startup Workpath for in-home blood draws and ScriptDrop for medication delivery.
For the consumer retail company, the Geisinger pilot program results signal that its ambitious move into healthcare could pay off. The results support Best Buy's hypothesis that it could take a number of capabilities traditionally built for national retail and apply them to healthcare to help solve what it saw as the major issue when providing care in the home: logistics.
"The results of this work thus far prove that the Geek Squad model within care at home supports activation and adherence, improves the patient experience, and reduces provider burden, all leading to better clinical outcomes and cost efficiencies," said Chris McGhee, CEO of Current Health, a Best Buy Health company. "We’ve heard from our partners that care at home is a logistics challenge. The results of this program prove that to be true. And it shows that we can take all Best Buy’s expertise to get devices into the home, get patients trained on them and connected to the provider."
Geisinger now plans to expand its partnership with Best Buy Health and its Geek Squad as part of its chronic disease management at-home program.
To date, the pilot program has focused on patients with complex hypertension, Murphy said. "They are very complex and very difficult to manage and we have had great success in that population. Where we're looking to areas where we'd perhaps like to extend is a tier down from that and those patients who would benefit from working with a ConnectedCare365 team, which consists of pharmacists, registered nurses, community health workers and physicians. We're looking to see do we get better outcomes when we start out in that high-intensity group and then go to the next segment group? And we want to do that for all the chronic conditions that we manage."
Geisinger launched its ConnectedCare365 chronic care management platform in 2021 and has since enrolled more than 1,100 patients in remote patient monitoring programs for chronic conditions like congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hypertension and diabetes. Patients enrolled in these programs receive devices including blood pressure cuffs, body weight scales, thermometers and glucose meters to monitor their health at home and transmit data back to their Geisinger care team through Best Buy Health’s care at home platform, Current Health.
Geisinger operates 10 hospital campuses, a health plan with more than half a million members, a research institute and the Geisinger College of Health Sciences. The health system has 25,000 employees and more than 1,700 employed physicians.
The health system is focused on moving more care into patients' homes while also setting new standards for quality of care, Murphy noted. "Working with Best Buy Health has allowed us to redefine the care experience and drive positive change in how care is provided and received," she said.
Patients gave the Geek Squad high marks, according to the pilot program results, with an NPS score of 89 when asked about their experience with Geek Squad agents visiting their homes, according to the health system.
Developing innovative care models by leveraging advanced technology and logistics services, Best Buy Health and Geisinger are looking to scale the way chronic disease can be managed at home, Murphy noted. The organizations plan to design a comprehensive package of technology and services to empower patients and support healthcare organizations as they operate their own chronic condition management programs.
“The results of our program show that when we combine what Best Buy is known for, technology support and expertise, with Geisinger’s best-in-class care teams and network of clinics and hospitals, we can make a meaningful difference in the patient and caregiver experience,” said Deborah Di Sanzo, president of Best Buy Health, in a statement. “Geisinger has been incredible in this work and we’re very excited about our ability to scale these capabilities across the country to further Best Buy Health’s goal to enable care at home for everyone.”
Best Buy Health views itself increasingly as a partner to health systems to bring their expertise in chronic condition management into the home, McGhee said.
"We are enabling health systems to focus on providing care, while we focus on what we do best: bringing consumers the technology they need and to age, receive care and remain well in their homes," he said. "We can get the devices to people’s homes when they need to be there, with full-service inventory and logistics, and Geek Squad can make sure everything works and is tailored to the best customer experience."
The idea is to merge the electronic retailer's omnichannel experience, robust supply chain and Geek Squad support with health systems' clinical expertise.
Best Buy also is working with Advocate Health to support its hospital-at-home service and has inked partnerships with Mount Sinai Health System and New York City-based NYU Langone Health, according to executives during the company's earnings call back in March.
When asked how Best Buy would leverage learnings from the Geisinger pilot program to inform its work with other health systems, McGhee said Current Health's "immediate focus" is to expand its work within Geisinger’s system to "continue driving positive outcomes for chronic care patients receiving care in their homes."