Forward, a primary care provider that touts its foundational belief that “healthcare should be a product, not a service,” has revealed its latest project: self-serve CarePods that rely on apps and artificial intelligence (AI) for health screenings. Resembling the private, closet-like lactation rooms offered at some airports, these AI-based modules are setting up shop in offices, malls, and gyms. With an initial launch in San Francisco, New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia, Forward’s CarePods require a $99 per month membership enrollment fee. Forward has secured $100 million in series E round funding, and the company plans to double its footprint in 2024, chalking up $657 million in investments since its 2016 launch.
Perhaps not: What is most likely to raise eyebrows in the healthcare industry is the doubling-down on what might be viewed as the commoditization of care. Forward founder and CEO Adrian Aoun recently told Fierce Healthcare that worldwide clinical teams can’t scale up enough to care for the entire global population. “Slowly but surely, what we’re doing is just migrating every single thing from doctors and nurses to hardware and software,” he said in the interview. If history is any indication, the success of the kiosk and pod model could be an uphill climb, mostly because of consumer behavior: Patients leaving their homes to seek care expect in-person service. The Cleveland Clinic’s kiosk partner shut down and abandoned the approach in 2016 after a two-year attempt at gaining traction.