An AI medical pod may soon be coming to a mall or office building near you.
The shed-sized CarePod clinics are autonomous “AI doctor’s offices” where patients can privately get checkups or assess their heart health, mental health, cancer risk, kidney health and other vitals, according to startup Forward. Memberships start at $99 a month. The service doesn’t bill insurance, so there are no co-pays or unexpected bills.
“We want to be on every street corner,” Forward Chief Executive Adrian Aoun said in an interview. “We plan to keep growing until we get to Rwanda and other areas that desperately need health-care options.”
The first batch will be deployed in malls, office buildings and gyms, starting in the San Francisco Bay Area, New York, Chicago (Willis Tower) and Philadelphia.
On Wednesday, Forward said it had secured $100 million in capital from the likes of Khosla Ventures, Founders Fund, Tencent Holdings
former StumbleUpon CEO Garrett Camp, and VC legend John Doerr to manufacture and deploy the pods.
The pod concept builds off Forward’s, which started as the first of many state-of-the-art medical facilities in the U.S. The 3,500-square-foot offices combined six examination rooms equipped with interactive displays and two body scanners that collect data via wearable sensors.
“We are democratizing health care; it should be available to anyone at any time,” said Aoun, a former Alphabet Inc.
executive who co-founded Forward with Ilya Abyzov, an Uber Technologies Inc.
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.
Forward’s flagship medical facilities look like an Apple Store: A display case shows off a wearable blood pressure cuff, a digital glucometer and a portable EKG monitor.
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, and are 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.
Forward has 19 locations nationwide and boasts a team of more than 100 primary-care clinicians. But it wants to now take a major leap in addressing the three fundamental challenges of healthcare: cost, accessibility, and quality.
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