Let’s establish a few things right away:
- Health insurance in America is a bit of a mess.
- A lot of people don’t properly maintain their own health.
- Doctor’s offices are often outdated torture chambers.
- Wearable health and activity monitors, along with smartphone apps, are a thing.
So what if there was a service that cost $149 a month, gave you access to doctors and a pharmacy around the clock and even invited you to ultra-modern offices that looked more like Sickbay on the USS Enterprise?
Enter healthcare startup Forward, who opened their first office in San Francisco this week. The office is festooned with data gathering devices, touchscreen displays, and doctors who care as much about your health as they do the latest technology. Pair that with an app that constantly sends your health data to doctors who are monitoring trends in your weight, temperature, pulse and more, and you’ve got a new technology that could discover problems before you end up at the emergency room.
The service works something like this: Sign up, download the app and visit the office where you’ll be given a full scan as a base for your health data. Doctors will update your profile with exercise, diet, blood and other data, and begin your (hopefully) long relationship with their service. If they want to track something specific, they may send you home with a health tracker to wear and send data to them via the app. Meanwhile, you’re welcome to visit and update your profile and data whenever you please, or you can just pick up a prescription. When and if you need further care, they will the help you select the right specialist based on your condition and insurance.
The people at Forward are clear to note that their service is not a replacement for health insurance. They’re just there to help you observe and maintain your health while giving you access to doctors who are looking at your health profile in a more holistic, quantified manner. At $149 a month, it certainly isn’t cheap, but neither are expensive prescriptions and surgeries, especially when it’s already a problem.
A hypochondriac’s dream or yourworst nightmare? Who knows, but one thing is clear: We can only wish that our every-day doctors were so interested in our health and had such cool gadgets in their offices.