Forward, a membership-based healthcare startup founded by former Googler Adrian Aoun, is opening its second location only about a year after it began seeing patients in San Francisco. The practice will head next to Los Angeles.
"Now we’re saying, we’re going to go ahead and roll this out to the world and not just do our little test bed here," Aoun told MobiHealthNews. "And as we’re doing that, the first step was pretty naturally Los Angeles for us. LA is the city of people who have been trying to take control of their health for decades. There’s a Whole Foods on every corner and people are eating organic. ... LA has been looking for this solution."
As MobiHealthNews reported back in January, Forward has redesigned the primary care experience around data. When someone begins a membership with Forward, they get a baseline body screening that pulls in data from body scans, blood testing, and genetic testing that all happens on-site. Results are fed into Forward’s AI and the Forward mobile app. Once patients get to the exam room, members and doctors can see their health history and sensor data on a display screen to augment clinical decision-making and better suggest treatment plans. Doctors can also continue to support patients after they leave the clinic, using the mobile app and wearable devices selected specifically for each patients' health needs.
The service costs $149 per month, but users just pay a flat monthly fee — they aren't subject to any copays or fees on top.
The model differs from a traditional healthcare experience in several ways. For one, visits are holistic and not simply reactive to a specific complaint. Care is designed to catch the signs of chronic conditions, and the service is designed to let providers stay in touch with patients after they leave the office.
"When you start to look at traditional providers, you start to be really disappointed with the metrics they collect," he said. "You go to the doctor, you see them, and you go on your way. They don’t actually know whether you got better or whether you didn’t. Their general rule of thumb is, if you didn’t come back in to the doctor, you probably got better. Turns out that’s a really bad idea."
Assuming Forward's high-touch model is working (the service is new enough that the clinic doesn't have hard data on how its outcomes compare to traditional healthcare providers), the biggest question is whether it will scale, so the opening of the LA office will be a test for the startup. But Aoun says that the high-tech aspect of the system will make it easier to scale than a traditional practice, especially as Forward expands its offerings.
"It’s super important for us as we scale that all of our data and all of our tools are being put into a central system, so when we say ‘we want to add genetics or sleep,' we have the world’s best geneticists and sleep experts working on the system and scaling out their intelligence or their knowledge," he said.