Best Buy expands reach into digital health space with Tyto Care partnership

Consumer electronics giant Best Buy is reiterating its interest in the healthcare space with a new retail partnership with Tyto Care, the maker of an at-home medical exam and telehealth device kit.

Best Buy plans to sell the company’s Tyto Home product on its website and in select stores in Minnesota. The retailer aims to sell the product in stores in North Dakota, South Dakota, California and Ohio soon. “The partnership is the latest example of Best Buy's growing commitment to the health space and its dedication to improving the lives of its customers through technology,” Best Buy officials said in a press release.

The move is part of a trend where retail and healthcare increasingly intersect. Target also has shown an interest in medical products as the company now sells at-home lab test kits from digital health startup EverlyWell, according to Forbes. The test kits enable consumers to test for Lyme disease, fertility, menopause as well as certain sexually transmitted diseases with samples sent to certified labs for results.

Last year, Best Buy acquired connected health company GreatCall for $800 million. GreatCall provides health and medical alert services to older consumers. That deal may not seem like a natural fit for a brick-and-mortar retail store, but Best Buy officials said at the time that the acquisition would augment the company’s existing efforts in the health space and help fuel Best Buy’s growth in the consumer and commercial markets.

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Best Buy also is piloting a service called Assured Living that uses technology to help adult children remotely check in on the health and safety of their aging parents.

Best Buy spokesman Keegan Shoutz said in an emailed response that Tyto Home is the company’s first digital health and telehealth product. “The device is a great example of how we can continue to make our customers’ lives better with technology, especially when it comes to their health,” Shoutz said.

The product, which retails for $299.99, is a handheld examination device. It has attachments that can examine the heart, lungs, skin, ears, throat and abdomen as well as measure body temperature to enable remote diagnosis of acute care situations like ear infections, sore throats, fever, cold and flu, allergies, stomachaches, upper respiratory infections and rashes, according to the companies. Following the at-home medical exams, users can then send the captured exam information to a primary care provider for diagnosis through a telehealth platform.

Tyto Care partners with LiveHealthOnline, a telehealth service through American Well, to provide telehealth services for customers who purchase Tyto Home on the website and live outside Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota or South Dakota. Tyto Care also is partnering with regional health system Sanford Health to provide virtual care to TytoHome users who live in those four states. The company plans to partner with other regional health systems as well.

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A TytoHome visit costs at most $59, potentially less depending on the visit or the user's health insurance plan, the company said.

“Tyto Care is combining increased convenience and accessibility with the power of a trusted retailer, health care providers, insurers and employers to deliver consumers the best that telehealth has to offer,” Dedi Gilad, CEO and co-founder of Tyto Care, said in a statement.

Health system partnerships

New Orleans-based Ochsner Health System also recently announced a partnership with Tyto Care to offer the TytoHome product to patients through Ochsner pharmacy locations and fitness centers and its O Bar retail stores, a “Genius-bar” type store.

Ochsner officials said the partnership expands and complements the health system’s current telehealth offerings through its Ochsner Anywhere Care platform. It also marks the first time a health system offers a telehealth solution combined with a portable remote examination tool, officials said.

The health system has branded the product as the Ochsner Anywhere Care Health Kit, and users can have a virtual visit with a physician using Ochsner’s Anywhere Care app.

The tool is designed to replicate the exams performed during an in-office visit by providing “high-quality digital sounds of the heart and lungs, digital images and video of the ears, throat, and skin, and body temperature,” Ochsner officials said.

“Ochsner continues to lead the healthcare industry by offering accessible and innovative telemedicine offerings to our patients across the Gulf Coast and beyond. By teaming up with Tyto Care and American Well to further expand our virtual visit offerings, we are improving accessibility to medical care and literally putting health in the hands of consumers,” David Houghton, M.D., medical director for Ochsner CareConnect 360, said in a statement.