A digital screen displays crucial patient data in Forward's doctor's office.(Photo: Forward for USA TODAY)
SAN FRANCISCO — Gleaming like a modernist and high-tech Apple Store, health care start-up Forward has designed a doctor's office/pharmacy of the future.
Tuesday, Forward opened the doors of what it hopes is the first of many state-of-the-art medical facilities in the USA. The 3,500-square-foot office, based downtown, combines six examination rooms equipped with interactive displays and two body scanners that collect data via wearable sensors.
"Health care is not a repair shop but an ongoing relationship," says Forward CEO Adrian Aoun, a former Alphabet executive who co-founded Forward with Ilya Abyzov, an Uber executive who helped launched uberX; Erik Frey, who led artificial intelligence initiatives at Google; and Rob Sebastian, who led product strategy for several GoogleX moonshot projects.
"We want proactive preventive health care that is data-driven, but do it at lower prices," says Aoun, who was motivated to tackle health after a younger relative of his suffered a heart attack in 2015 — then was hit with a $100,000 medical bill.
Forward co-founder Adrian Aoun (Photo: Weinberg-Clark Photography)
"Engineers have failed" the medical community, leaving a dearth of available data, especially during an emergency, says Aoun, a trained engineer. Doctors face a barrage of life-or-death decisions with a "fragmentation of information that makes them fly blind," he says.
The $149-per-month service doesn’t bill insurance, so there are no co-pays or unexpected bills. A few hundred patients are signed up with Forward, about 15% of whom hail from underserved communities and joined for free.
Forward's flagship medical facility looks like Apple's gadget emporiums, very much Aoun's intention. A display case shows off a wearable blood pressure cuff, a digital glucometer and a portable EKG monitor.
A display and body scanner in the main lobby of Forward's flagship medial facility in San Francisco (Photo: Forward for USA TODAY)
Behind the display, a body scanner with sensors measures a patient's height, weight and heart rate. Those results are fed into Forward’s AI system and the Forward mobile app. This is the member's first stop.
The results take a few minutes, followed by a visit to the exam room that is dominated by a large screen. On it, the patient's medical data are displayed. A doctor points out relevant information, based on the body scan and a subsequent blood test and DNA analysis.
The DNA test is simple: Patients supply a saliva sample, which is sent to a sequencing partner to be processed. Upon receiving the results, a doctor goes over any discovered mutations with the patient and uses the information to personalize cancer screening, if necessary.
Aaliya Yaqub, who helped design the display, says it is crucial in helping the physician's diagnoses and treatment plans — while allowing the member to see it.
Ian Prager, 39, an investment banker from San Francisco who has tested Forward since mid-December, says the screen transformed his experience in a doctor's office like nothing else. "I am super-engaged, exchanging information with a doctor face to face," Prager says. "They aren't scribbling notes on a pen and paper."
Body scanners record vital signs of patients when they arrive. (Photo: Forward for USA TODAY)
The 40-person start-up, also based here, is financially backed by an all-star group of tech veterans: Alphabet Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, Box CEO Aaron Levie, Palantir Technologies co-founder Joe Lonsdale, Khosla Ventures and venture capital legend John Doerr.
Forward’s physicians, who come from Stanford Hospitals, Sutter Health and Kaiser Permanente, received medical training in internal or family medicine.
Forward is part of a movement among tech and health care professionals to create an analytics model that examines a person's genetic predisposition, so their long-term health is addressed.
"Physicians are extraordinarily talented at diagnosing and treating symptoms," says Clayton Lewis, CEO of Arivale, a scientific wellness start-up. "We and others want to help them assess one's health trends years in advance."
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