What Best Buy’s $800 million cash purchase of GreatCall connected health/PERS really means

Have health and connectedness services for older people finally made it out of the pumpkin and to the ball? GreatCall’s market doesn’t make for great cocktail party buzz or TEDMED talks. It’s emergency response with Jeopardy’s Alex Trebek presenting 5 Star emergency service bundled in a Jitterbug flip or smartphone (made by others). It’s made intelligent acquisitions. taking some of the tech developed by Lively to develop wearables that are quite presentable and by Healthsense for the senior living market. It’s been a leader in how to make both traditional direct marketing (DRTV, print) and digital work for an older market. Somehow, it’s managed to accumulate over 900,000 paying customers, which proved to be very attractive to first PE firm GTCR and now Minneapolis-based Best Buy, which with GreatCall has made its Biggest Buy.

GreatCall will remain a separate division with the same CEO (David Inns, with them since their 2006 founding) and remain HQ’d in San Diego. The transaction is expected to close by end of the third quarter of Best Buy’s fiscal 2019, subject to regulatory approvals.

Best Buy in the US has remained the #1 electronics ‘big box’ store that, like most retail, has stumbled about and come back from the brink. Their purchase of GreatCall, a partner for many years, reinforces a strategy they’ve worked on for a while in featuring health and wellness-related products to what CNBC calls ‘an aging population’ as part of ‘solving technology problems and addressing key human needs across a range of areas.’ GreatCall, as noted above, has a superb track record in direct marketing to that group. (In this context, the former Healthsense B2B play is limited–some of the feedback that this Editor’s received is that GreatCall stumbled out of the gate with Healthsense customers with a lack of understanding of the LTC/senior housing market dynamics. Long term, it seems out of phase with Best Buy’s direction in a way that consumer-oriented Lively is not.)

Will that talent spill over to and influence the rest of Best Buy’s business? Will Best Buy successfully carve out a niche which is relatively resistant to the predations of Amazon (which also sells a lot of health tech) and other online retailers? Is this niche big enough to support this Big Box Retailer? Seeking Alpha, press release, Mobihealthnews

Bucharest–the next hot European digital city? 170 startups say ‘da’. (RU)

It certainly came as a surprise that the second fastest growing economy in the EU is–Romania. Identified in your Editor’s mind with the monstrous dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu, grinding poverty and the lost orphans (who are now lost and underground–see this horrific Daily Mail article), it has a burgeoning tech startup scene and a superior digital infrastructure including the fastest internet in Europe, achieved through a combination of post-Ceaușescu entrepreneurship and state avoidance. The Communist emphasis on what we call STEM also has paid off for both young men and especially for women as techies and developers. There are even accelerators: Innovation Labs and MVP Academy. Where Romania lags versus similarly situated Estonia and Bulgaria is native investment–angel investors are almost unknown. Being also an EU member, most of the best are lured away to attractive opportunities in other countries (including the US) at least for some time. But the low cost of development versus other digital cities like London and Berlin, educated workforce and a robust infrastructure are factors favoring Romania. Hat tip to reader Jerry Kolosky. One of the poorest countries in the EU could be its next tech-startup hub (Quartz) and the Digital City Index. (We note the photo at the top of the Quartz article is Google Chicago, not Bucharest)

Docs tickling the computer keys a turnoff to patients: JAMA

Health tech as perceptual barrier. A study published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine-Online First (limited content) found that patients were noticeably less satisfied their care when the physician used the computer (e.g. EHR) during the appointment. According to Reuters, only half of the 25 visits with high computer use were rated as “excellent care” by the patients, compared to more than 80 percent of the 19 encounters with low computer use. iHealthBeat cited that physicians who spent more time on the screen:

  • Spent less time making eye contact with patients
  • Tended to do more “negative rapport building,” such as correcting patients about their medical history or drugs taken in the past based on information in their EHR.

The researchers (primarily from the University of California–San Francisco) used data from two years of visits by 47 patients to 39 doctors at a public hospital. The patients had Type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis or congestive heart failure, with some having multiple chronic conditions. What is downplayed is that the patients were considered ‘safety net’ patients with communication barriers–limited health literacy and often limited English (primary Spanish speakers). But even this special population may be pointing to an overall problem (more…)

AARP/Intel’s simplified tablet–insulting to 50+?

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/gimlet-eye.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Earlier this month, AARP announced its marketing of the RealPad, a simplified 7.85″ tablet. Its positioning is clearly aiming at the less tech-savvy cohort over 50. With much fanfare, AARP is touting its partnership with Intel in this ” intuitive, easy-to-use software interface for RealPad” on Android KitKat 4.4. It will be available at Walmart this fall at $189 (preorder via AARP) and it has the requisite big icons, front and back cameras and free 24/7 customer service. Release.

The Eye Rolls. We know that the AARP bread ‘n’ butter is creating loyalty for their products by catering to those who pay for their association’s services, but a press release headline like this sounds tinny to many of the younger and not-so-young people in this age group:

AARP ANNOUNCES REALPAD, FIRST OF ITS KIND TABLET DESIGNED FOR AMERICANS 50+ APPREHENSIVE ABOUT TECHNOLOGY

Powered by Intel, RealPad to Serve as Digital Gateway to Over 70 Million Americans 50+ (more…)

International eGovernment and eHealth Cooperation Forum 2014 (Austria)

20 October 2014. Austrian Federal Economic Chamber, Wiedner Hauptstraße 63, Vienna, Austria

The Cooperation Forum is targeted at European and international public administrators, service providers, companies and potential purchasers in the areas of eHealth and eGovernment. It covers several verticals outside of healthcare but in the eHealth area they are (directly) listed as eHealth and Telemedicine, as well as less directly Open Government Data (OGD)/Public sector information (PSI). The Forum is centered on learning about latest trends and technologies, as well as cross-border contacts and meetings with principals in the eGovernment and eHealth sector. Supported by Enterprise Europe Network, the European Commission, WKO and Digital Austria. Attractively, participation in the Cooperation Forum is free of charge but registration for the event is mandatory; for international guests it includes complimentary accommodation (two nights in a 3*/4* hotel in the city center of Vienna with breakfast). Program (PDF). Flyer (PDF)Information and registration. Hat tip to Eva Weidinger, Head of Technology Affairs at the Austrian Embassy (London)