Why Kaiser chose Best Buy Health as a tech partner

Chris Stenzel, vice president of national business development and innovation at Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente, played an integral role in the health system's partnership with Best Buy Health to develop remote patient-monitoring tools for older adults. He describes how the partnership came about in a recent episode of the Becker's Healthcare podcast.

"We frequently talk with innovators in healthcare, particularly new entrants, including retailers, incumbent technology companies interested in healthcare and startup companies," said Mr. Stenzel. "We were engaged with Best Buy, and as we looked at how they could complement our assets and capabilities, we found a number of intriguing things about them."

One of the most attractive aspects of Best Buy was their technology support strategy; the company's Geek Squad is within 10 minutes of about 80 percent of homes in the U.S., including many of Kaiser's 1.7 million Medicare members. The two initially partnered in 2019 on their pilot program for Lively Mobile Plus, a two-way communication device providing at-home or mobile care for older adults. They rolled out the tools for all Kaiser Permanente Medicare members Oct. 5.

The partnership also met the health system's alignment goals to create value. Mr. Stenzel said the health system aims to make it easy and convenient for members to access care, deliver high clinical quality and reduce costs. He regularly sees new opportunities cross his desk, and the ones that stick out are based on proven technology and consumer experience, he said.

"The Best Buy partnership is an example where we are not [developing] a radical new technology with artificial intelligence and machine learning; all of that is good, but what we are doing is we are making it a whole lot easier for our members and their caregivers to access resources and knowledge and have peace of mind in caring for those seniors," said Mr. Stenzel.

And while many healthcare providers are nervous about the entry of retailers, pharmacy chains and tech companies into healthcare, Mr. Stenzel said he is excited about it.

"I see opportunities to partner with organizations like Best Buy and others to bring their massive footprint, whether it be digital or in person, as well as their consumer orientation and technology expertise to improve quality, the consumer experience and lower costs," he said.

A big opportunity he sees is partnering with companies to develop digital health technology around mental health and cognitive behavioral health.

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