I recently had lunch with a good friend, Jeff Wojnicz, who has spent his career in the electronic and tech retail business, and is currently VP of Business Development at Kinneberg Management Group. As we were catching up on what each was doing, we almost immediately started discussing the accelerating trend of digital health in the retail space, and it made me want to give it even more thought.

There is no question that digital health is booming and will continue to do so. Accenture recently surveyed almost 400 healthcare executives in six different countries about digital health[1] and reported that 81% of respondents said that the pace of digital transformation was accelerating in their organization; 93% said their organization is “innovating with an urgency and call to action.”

HIMSS asked digital health professionals and venture capitalists for the “most significant investing trends,”[2] to which respondents replied:

  • Telehealth
  • Remote Patient Monitoring
  • Behavioral Health Technologies
  • Consumer-driven Digital Health
  • Testing, Tracking, and Diagnostics
  • Health Equity and Community-Centric Innovations

Interestingly, when describing the consumer-driven digital health trends, the article states, “Patients expect the kind of access to healthcare products and services already common in the tech, retail and financial industries.”

Some retailers are already gearing up for what they think will be continued growth in this area. According to Business Insider, CVS is “doubling down” on providing digital health services like virtual care.[3] CVS is also moving scheduling online, beefing up their digitally based pharmacy capabilities, and selling more over-the-counter health and wellness products.

Best Buy recently paid $400 million for Current Health, a remote patient monitoring tech vendor. When asked for reasons for the acquisition, Best Buy CEO Corie Barry claimed that Best Buy wants to “create a holistic care ecosystem that shows up for customers across all their healthcare needs.”[4] Other reasons included a desire to help consumers track and monitor chronic conditions and the potential launch of emergency response devices and virtual care for seniors.

Basically, it sounds like Best Buy wants to get in on the home medical devices market, which by at least one estimate will grow from $34 billion in 2020 to $57% billion in 2028 (7% per year).[5] This estimate relates to devices that include:

  • Testing, screening, and monitoring equipment
  • Therapeutic products
  • Mobility care products
  • Electrical simulation devices
  • Biofeedback instruments
  • Muscle stimulators

This really should be no surprise: the line between “consumer electronics” and “digital health devices” continues to blur. In addition to retail-based fitness and pulse tracking devices (e.g., fitbit, whoop, etc.), Apple watches now claim to be able to perform EKGs on those wearing them. Another digital health platform (Qure4u) is collaborating with AT&T and Samsung to provide remote patient monitoring for people with high blood pressure.[6]

While smartphones and tablets may seem like the obvious choice for digital health products to leverage, it is likely that more traditional medical devices (that are low risk and non-invasive) will appear on the shelves of retailers in the coming years. This will allow consumers to side-step the often cumbersome and confusing medical insurance route for obtaining devices while offering the satisfaction guarantee people have come to expect from their tech purchases. For device and digital health developers, retail offers wider distribution and more brand recognition than is possible when only available through payers or providers.

 

  1. “Accenture Digital Health Technology Vision 2021” Accenture. https://www.accenture.com/us-en/insights/health/accenture-digital-health-technology-vision-2021
  2. “Digital Health and the Trends Healthcare Investors are Following” HIMSS. https://www.himss.org/resources/digital-health-and-trends-healthcare-investors-are-following
  3. “A top CVS Health exec breaks down the 4 ways the company is using technology to transform how patients get care and prescriptions.” Business Insider. https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/cvs-health-digital-strategy-technology-transform-how-people-access-healthcare-2021-12
  4. “Best Buy Wants to Try Remote Patient Monitoring for Home Care.” Syscreations. https://www.syscreations.ca/blog/remote-patient-monitoring-for-home-care/
  5. “Home Medical Devices Market Size Worth $57,201.9 Million, Globally, by 2028 at 7% CAGR – Exclusive Report by the Insight Partners” PR Newswire. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/home-medical-devices-market-size-worth-57-102-9-million-globally-by-2028-at-7-cagr—exclusive-report-by-the-insight-partners-301443910.html
  6. “Qure4u Partners AT&T, Samsung To Offer Remote Patient Monitoring – Quick Facts” Business Insider. https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/qure4u-partners-at-t-samsung-to-offer-remote-patient-monitoring-quick-facts-1031035429