Best Buy as a (Digital) Drug Store: The Age of Digital Medicine Has Arrived.
[Thursday, January 24, 2019]
In an indication of the rapid growth in the number of digital medicine products to consumers and the increasing acceptability of their use for several healthcare applications, Best Buy, recently launched the “Best Buy Clinic”, a one stop location to purchase digital health products. The website lists products for real-time checking on one’s health status, track health related information, and provide medical advice. Products available for sale include ones for home EKGs (electrocardiograms), allergen sensors, diabetes monitors, and medication trackers. Although the selection of digital health devices is quite limited at the time (compared to Amazon that has a much larger selection), and the devices are of potentially lowest risk category, the impact on perception of the utility and consumer acceptability of such products is very high. Being able to walk into a neighborhood electronic store to buy diagnostic, health consultation, and even therapeutic devices is a big step in making digital health common. Best Buy, being the nation’s largest chain of brick & mortar electronic stores, would add to the consumer confidence in such products potentially increasing their use. FDA strongly supports digital health devices and has enacted several policies to facilitate their approval. Developers can make stronger claims of benefit and offer products direct to consumer without much involvement of physicians. Although the websites carry disclaimers regarding limitations of these devices, the overall presentation is biased towards benefits and not the limitations and risk. Consumers need education on the limitation of these devices and be encouraged to discuss with their primary care physicians to better use these devices, at least in the near future, till there is reasonable real-world evidence of the benefits without the potential risks.