Explainer: Best Buy’s Digital Health Offering for Seniors

The American consumer electronics retail giant Best Buy is among those looking to benefit from the growing number of baby boomer retirees. To that end, it has launched several different products and services, and has even made an acquisition. Here are the highlights:

Best Buy store

The Assured Living service

In October 2017, Best Buy launched the Assured Living service in response to customers who came into its stores looking for smart home technology to help keep tabs on their aging parents.

The system uses non-intrusive sensors and notifications to inform loved ones of the parent's daily activities, such as movement and sleep patterns, and is capable of learning the user's daily routines, so it can alert loved ones of abnormal activity.

Available in select cities, Assured Living also gives elders access to the ease and convenience of the latest smart home technology that allows them to use voice commands to turn on the lights, answer the door or adjust the thermostat without getting up.

"We looked at several options, and we felt strongly that we didn't want to use wearable devices or cameras," AJ McDougall, who oversees Assured Living for Best Buy, said at the time of the announcement. "We want our elders to feel very independent. We just need to know they're still safe and secure when we're not there."

The basic Assured Living package includes a control panel, motion sensor, bed pressure sensor and door sensor. And to make for an easy setup, Best Buy sends its Geek Squad Agents to the customer's home to install the sensors and smart home products, all of which are backed by 24/7 Geek Squad support. The caregiving advisor also helps set up the notifications.

Acquisition of GreatCall

In August 2018, Best Buy acquired GreatCall from private equity firm GTCR for $800 million. GreatCall develops connected health products and services for active aging, helping seniors live more independent lives. Its products include easy-to-use phones, a mobile medical alert device with fall detection and an urgent response device that works with a smartphone. The company also offers a suite of Health & Safety and Family Caregiving Services.

Less than a year later, in January 2019, GreatCall announced a partnership with long-term care insurer CNA — one of the largest U.S. commercial property and casualty insurance companies — to provide certain CNA policyholders with its in-home passive remote monitoring solution, Lively Home, and its Lively Mobile medical alert device.

The mentioned Lively Home uses passive sensors to measure daily activities like eating, sleeping and movement. It gathers information to identify patterns, then uses GreatCall's predictive analytics to highlight any anomalies that could indicate a change in policyholder's health. GreatCall's Care Team is trained to monitor behavior data, identify trends, and escalate the issue to the policyholder's designated contact, potentially allowing for earlier and overall less expensive health intervention.

On the other hand, Lively Mobile is a Personal Emergency Response System (PERS), featuring GreatCall's 5Star Urgent Response service that provides users with immediate access, 24/7, to certified 5-Star Service agents who can assist with a variety of situations.

More Lively-branded products followed...

In February 2020, BestBuy launched the Lively Wearable2 and revamped Lively App by GreatCall. The wrist- or neck-worn device includes fall detection, a step counter, four-month battery life and the ability to trigger an emergency alert. The companion app, meanwhile, can connect to 24-7 urgent response services as well as a monitoring app for family and caretakers.

The Lively Wearable2 itself runs customers for about $49.99, with subscriptions to the system's other services starting at $24.99 per month.

Roughly a year later, Best Buy Health made its Lively health and safety services available on Apple Watch — again, allowing users to get assistance from trained Lively Urgent Response Agents. Plus, with the Live Agent Assist feature, when Apple Watch detects a hard fall - Lively Agents will provide an extra layer of protection by calling users to make sure they're OK and contacting family members if needed.

It is said that Best Buy Health worked closely with Apple on this feature, which was one of the first to use Apple's new fall detection API.

Lively Smart

Finally, in May 2021, a new smartphone offering was launched - Lively Smart. Designed to be easy to use "from the moment it's turned on," it comes with a 6.2-inch screen, large letters and features like video chat, directions, and more organized into a simple list.

Like other devices offered by Best Buy Health, Lively Smart can also be used with a Lively Health & Safety plan — offering seamless access to services such as Urgent Response and Urgent Care. The device is available for $149.99 plus monthly service.