This morning, Forward Health, a tech-heavy doctor's office founded and backed by ex-Googlers, announced a $225 million Series D funding round. Founders Fund, Khosla Ventures, SoftBank Vision Fund 2, Marc Benioff and The Weeknd each participated in the raise, along with other unnamed backers.
WHAT IT DOES
San Francisco-based Forward was formed about five years ago by Adrian Aoun (who also founded Google's Sidewalk Labs and wavii) as a blend of in-person primary care and data-driven health monitoring.
During their first visit, members receive a full-body scan that logs more than 500 biomarkers, a blood draw and optional genetic testing – each of which the startup uses alongside the patient's medical history as the baseline for their personalized health plan.
While these services are anchored by Forward's 11 physical locations, spread across four states and Washington, the startup has also doubled down on its virtual and remote care options during the pandemic.
New members can complete much of their first visit from the comfort of their home by using a provided sensor kit, in-home blood draw and other tools housed within Forward's mobile app.
From there, members can use the app to access their health profile, complete regular mental health assessments, message a Forward care team member with health concerns 24/7, and schedule in-person or virtual visits.
The startup also aims to cut down on the complexity of healthcare payments. Individuals pay for their membership as a flat monthly or annual fee with no copays, and insurance is not required for enrollment.
WHAT IT'S FOR
The startup said that these funds will support the opening of "several" new physical locations in the first half of the year, as well as the launch of new program offerings centered on heart health, cancer detection, COVID-19, stress, anxiety and weight management.
THE LARGER TREND
The market has been fairly generous to startups like Forward that are blurring the lines between traditional and tech-driven/virtual care.
Carbon Health, another California-based primary care provider with digital health offerings, enjoyed multiple funding rounds during a year of rapid expansion and demand. Similarly, One Medical outperformed its expectations following an early 2020 IPO (although it is currently under scrutiny for allegedly vaccinating ineligible patients).
Not to be forgotten is the Medicare-focused primary care provider Iora Health, which raised $126 million just over a year ago and announced a couple of major industry partnerships in the past few months alone.
ON THE RECORD
“The pandemic has further exposed the limitations of traditional healthcare, and the Band-Aid of telehealth alone does not solve the problem. We’re grateful that our investors have recognized this and are backing a new healthcare system that requires no insurance and no copay,” CEO and cofounder Aoun said in a statement.
“In addition to serving as your single-source for everyday primary care, our insight-led care helps identify issues early, so you can stay healthy for the long-term.”