Technology plays a vital role in everything and every industry across the globe — yet health care lags behind. But industry disruptor Forward is on a mission to bring it to the 21st century, from its focus on health and wellness to its use of high-tech and AI devices.
“Technology is solving real problems, some of them trivial, some pretty serious, and that’s cool, but it feels a little odd that we’re not applying it into the world of health,” Forward founder Adrian Aoun said. “We’re trying to build a completely parallel health care system.”
Forward launched in San Francisco last year and has since expanded, twice, in Southern California. This month, it’s taking on Manhattan with two locations in NoMad and Midtown.
“We don’t really share detailed numbers, but it’s big. A lot of people have signed up,” Aoun said.
The Forward health care experience
In addition to creating much of the state-of-the-art technology used in its Apple Store-like locations, another Forward disruption is it’s member-based, so New Yorkers pay a flat $199 monthly fee for 24/7 health care, prescriptions, tests and more — with no insurance claims and “no upsells,” Aoun said. (The company does recommend you keep insurance for emergency and specialty care, though.)
So how does a typical visit to Forward work? Patients first sign themselves in, and then step onto “a pretty fun body scanner that we developed,” Aoun said. By resting their left hand on a ledge, the machine takes several readings, such as a thermal map for your temperature and checks your blood flow for any heart abnormalities. Then you put your right hand on as well for a full ECG and to map your body composition and more. Finally, “pretty fancy” cameras like iPHone’s Face ID measures your contours to create a high-tech model of your body.
Forward also has an on-site blood-processing facility and will “sequence your DNA so we can look at what genetic variances or mutations you have to tell us what diseases you’re more at-risk for, “ Aoun said. “We can look at what medications your body is more likely to respond to as well.”
Now it’s time for your exam, which takes place in a super-comfy chair in a room that has a huge touch screen featuring your body model and information.
“Anything you and the doctor talk about, the screen has a Siri-like interface to pick up that info and show it on the scrren, so we’re capturing all that data,” Aoun added. Equipment the doctor may use, such as a stethoscope, have sensors so its data is “plugged in real-time to your account” which you can access anytime via the Forward app.
Naturally, all that data brings up the question of privacy, which Aoun answered by first citing today’s health care system.
“It’s typically someone sitting behind a desk that you’ve never met making all these health care decisions, and they own your data, your experience,” he said. “We figured that’s really not the right way to go. It’s much better that you’re the customer. Your data is your data. In the existing health care system, that’s not how it works.”
In addition to primary care and a focus on health and wellness, Forward is also diving into dermatology and cardiac health.
“The idea is that we’re getting all the information in one place so you and your doctor can take a pretty proactive stance,” Aoun said. “We want to get ahead of those insights to start figuring out what’s going to come down the pipe and what we can do about it now instead of waiting to react later.”
For info, visit goforward.com.