After a few months of testing, a Best Buy senior director, Kurt Hulander, said the big box electronics store will begin selling wireless-enabled health and fitness devices in more than half of its 1,089 stores in the US.
"It's a potential growth area for us," Hulander told BusinessWeek. "A lot of things traditionally done in the doctor's office might soon be done at home."
Best Buy has not finalized its product lineup yet but according to the BusinessWeek report it may include blood-pressure monitors, pedometers, and fitness watches. Hulander also plugged the potential for these devices to wirelessly transmit data to websites like Microsoft's HealthVault so they could be shared with medical professionals.
HealthVault is where much of Best Buy's recent interest in wireless health began:
At the Microsoft Connected Health Conference last June, Best Buy teamed up with Microsoft’s HealthVault team to invite device makers to pitch the electronics store’s executives in a private meeting at the event: “If you believe that your product or solution can wow health-conscious shoppers at the largest consumer electronics retailer in the United States, this is your chance to make it happen,” stated the Microsoft-Best Buy invitation for “HealthVaultDevices@BestBuy”. The invitation also explained that “outstanding solutions providers” would have the opportunity to discuss collaboration opportunities with Best Buy. Qualifications for the device companies included the ability to “demonstrate how health data can be transferred from their device, via a wired or wireless connection, to a PC, phone or directly to the cloud.” HealthVault integration was considered a “plus” but not a requirement.
Since then New Jersey medical group Meridian Health announced (at MobiHealthNews' Everywhere Healthcare event) last year that it was working with Best Buy to determine whether shoppers would be interested in purchasing wireless-enabled devices at the company's stores:
“It has been an interesting journey,” Meridian's Director of Consumer Technology Sandra Elliott said. “With the initial focus groups and mystery shopping, people felt very comfortable that they could get devices commonly found at CVS, Walgreens and even WalMart at a Best Buy, too. These are devices like blood pressure cuffs, glucometers and similar ones.”
In November, Best Buy announced its plans to bring health devices and services to 40 of its stores across the US: “New technologies are emerging daily to help people plan, monitor, and enhance their health and fitness activities,” Best Buy stated in its press release at the time. “Yet finding the ways and the time to stay fit and motivated can seem more complicated than ever before. Starting today, Best Buy customers in select markets from Washington, DC to Denver can turn to the nation’s largest consumer electronics retailer for help in satisfying their health and fitness equipment and management needs.”
The report in BusinessWeek indicates that Best Buy's rollout will increase more than tenfold (more than 500 stores) in the near future.