- Healthcare startup Forward is opening two locations on the east coast, with plans to become the de facto healthcare program of the future.
- Forward is a doctor’s office that works like a gym membership, and focuses on preventative healthcare – and promises to use advanced AI to help patients manage their health.
- Founder Adrian Aoun, a former Google exec who foudned Alphabet’s Footpath Labs subsidiary, believes that Forward could be the model for American healthcare going forward.
Of all the issues afflicting America’s current medical system, there’s one that Adrian Aoun, founder of healthcare company Forward, sees as the most troubling:
As a whole, the current healthcare system doesn’t focus on preventative care. There’s often little reason to visit your doctor beyond an annual check-up, unless you’re dealing with a pressing medical issue.
To that end, Aoun launched Forward in 2017, as a sleek, futuristic doctor’s office with a business model that has more in common with your local gym than that of a typical healthcare facility. The company recently opened its first east coast location in New York City, to complement the three it operates in Los Angeles, and its one location in San Francisco. A second New York City location will be opening soon, says Forward.
Aoun, a former Google executive who oversaw the launch of Alphabet’s urban innovation program Footpath Labs, hopes to give Forward members a hands-on approach to their health, using the company’s AI-equipped technology and a health-focused app.
The new approach begins with the pricing model. Forward offers memberships starting at $US150 a month, which means that you can drop in to visit your doctor as often as you please. Rather than focusing on treating you while you’re already sick, Forward is primarily concerned with helping its members proactively manage their health over time.
“Why would you want the healthcare system to work like a gym?” asked Aoun. “You go to the gym with the goal of changing your body. It’s about continual engagement. We’re here to work on things that will effect you in 10 or 20 years. It’s not about just visiting the doctor’s office to address an issue and then coming in and being done. The health issues that affect us in 10 or 20 years from now are what’s ultimately killing us.”
The future of Forward
Along with two new locations in New York opening this winter, the company recently debuted a series of new medical devices, like a cardiac ultrasound and DNA sequencing tools, that it’s already put to use to help monitor its patients’ health.
This, says Aoun, is only the beginning of what Forward plans to offer. For now, if you’re addressing a healthcare issue that needs a specialist’s attention, Forward will help you set up an appointment with an out-of-house physician. But, in general, you should expect to see more of those kinds of specialists in-house at Forward in the upcoming year, said Aoun.
“We want to build the world’s biggest health care system,” said Aoun. “We’re planning on launching more and more services until one day we’re able to perform open heart surgery.”
Aoun says that even with an ever-expanding roster of services at Forward, he plans to maintain the same price for its monthly membership program.
“The plan is to make healthcare more accessible and efficient,” said Aoun. “We want to rebuild every part of the healthcare system.”
Designing the future of healthcare
To do so, Forward is building out tech-heavy doctor’s offices outfitted with lustrous wall-to-wall flat screens and blonde wood paneling – all without a clipboard in sight. Technology, says Aoun, is the cornerstone of healthcare’s future, as a way to treat more patients with lower overhead from human capital.
“You have to ask yourself what went wrong with today’s healthcare system,” said Aoun. “The problem is that our current healthcare system is based on labour. Paying doctors $US200,000 a year is a system that doesn’t scale well. If you build a healthcare system on the foundation of technology, you can scale it to billions of people.”
Aoun has no intention of Forward remaining a boutique healthcare provider; instead, the company plans to rebuild nearly every conceivable field of medicine with technology as its core backbone. And while Forward employs its own doctors, much of the company’s healthcare programming takes place over its mobile app.
“It’s like having a doctor in your pocket that’s in your phone at all times,” said Aoun.
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