It has been four months since Best Buy Co. Inc. announced it was spending $800 million in cash to buy GreatCall, a mobile device and emergency call service for older adults and their family caregivers.
Since closing on the deal in October, the Richfield-based retailer has quietly beefed up its focus and expertise around its health care business.
Earlier this month, the company tapped Asheesh Saksena as president of Best Buy Health, a role officials said is designed to “refine and implement” its health strategy.
Saksena, who was hired in 2016 and had led the Strategic Growth Office, will focus on expanding technology that can help seniors live independently in their homes and provide peace of mind to their families.
Best Buy also has hired two veteran health care executives to its board of directors.
On Dec. 19, it appointed Eugene A. Woods, the president and chief executive of Charlotte, N.C.-based Atrium Health, to the board. Atrium is a $10 billion non-profit enterprise that operates hospitals, clinics and nursing homes.
Woods has been working in health care for 25 years and was listed among Modern Healthcare’s most influential people in healthcare in 2018.
In October, the Best Buy board brought on Cindy Kent, a former president and general manager of 3M’s Infection and Prevention Division, a $1.65 billion global healthcare business. Previously Kent worked at Medtronic and pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly Co.
Best Buy CEO and board chairman Hubert Joly noted that each appointment was a strategic move as the company builds and innovates its health and wellness business.
Technology in the health and fitness arena has been a mainstay of Best Buy’s business for years. But Best Buy is making a major play to serve an aging America.
By 2030, one in five people will be over the age of 65. Technology holds the promise of helping people stay in their homes longer and to help connect aging adults with their children and other family caregivers.
GreatCall, based in San Diego, has at least 900,000 subscribers for its service, which includes mobile technology and simple devices to connect older adults with family members or with trained call center operators who can answer questions or call emergency personnel if necessary.
The purchase complemented a similar Best Buy service called Assured Living that incorporates motion sensors and other monitoring technologies to try to prevent health crises and help older adults live independently.
Both services dovetail with Best Buy’s broader efforts to promote its expertise in “connected home” services, using Geek Squad employees to make in-home evaluations.