I step into a clean, minimalist lobby of a futuristic medical clinic where alt-pop music wafts throughout. Actually, I step into the lobby only on my third go-around: I walked past Forward twice because its entrance to the Glendale location is just as glossy and polished as every other building in the Americana at Brand shopping center.
When I say minimalist, I really mean it — only two chairs sit in the waiting room. Dr. Nate Favini, Forward’s medical lead, doesn’t like to call it a waiting room, though, because patients don’t actually wait there. Oh, and patients aren’t just patients, either. Favini prefers to call them members.
Instead, in Forward’s “front of house,” members check themselves in on tablets , where initials pop up according to what appointments are in queue. After checking in, members stand in front of a 3D body scanner that uses a variety of technologies — infrared, bioelectrical impedance, structured light — and a rotating platform to gather measurements that they then discuss with their physician.
Forward Health considers itself the doctor’s office of the future, where tech and medicine meet to create a seamless, collaborative primary care experience. I visited Forward Health to find out how different this place really is compared to the typical doctor’s office.
What is Forward Health?
By the time members make it from the body scanner to their exam room, Forward’s algorithms have already translated the scan data into easy-to-understand tidbits about the members’ health. Member and doctor then collaboratively review the data together on a massive touchscreen.
What this means for primary care
“Of all the things that are changing, health care seems to be one of the furthest behind,” Favini told CNET. “We want to show people the value in taking care of themselves, and show them that it doesn’t have to be the inconvenience that it’s historically been.”
Perhaps most importantly, Forward wants to make the delivery of care more efficient, which means constant innovations in care models to match the technology people already use. For now, this means continuing to improve the Forward app so it works with more devices and captures more information, as well as improving methods of communication like the 24/7 nurse access feature.
One Medical offers a few extras, like group programs and mental health counseling. Their model also accepts most major insurance plans, and the annual membership fee is said to pay for things that insurance doesn’t typically cover, like the group programs.
In general, expect to see a gradual shift in the way primary care is executed. As Favini put it, people deserve more than what traditional doctor’s offices can give them.