Forward, a cutting-edge health-tech startup, has introduced CarePods, a revolutionary concept in self-serving doctor’s offices. Crafted by experts from prestigious institutions like Harvard and John Hopkins, these AI-driven pods are designed to function as trained medics catering to general and specialized health needs.

The primary aim of CarePods is to enhance accessibility to primary medical care. Beginning in 2024, Forward plans to deploy these pods in malls, gyms, and offices across major U.S. cities, including San Francisco, New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia. With memberships starting at $99 per month and no appointment necessary, patients can step into these sleek white structures and access an array of health services using designated health apps on a screen.

The services include biometric body scans, weight management, diabetes screening, and advanced assessments of heart, thyroid, kidney, and liver health through AI apps. Some apps are even capable of testing for diseases like COVID-19 and HIV, as well as monitoring mental health challenges. Patients receive step-by-step instructions on how to utilize each service through advanced AI capabilities.

Adrian Aoun, CEO and founder of Forward, explained the process, stating, “Let’s say you choose the body scan app. It’s like, ‘Please stand still,’ and then it rotates you in a circle, takes a whole bunch of readings, shows you those readings on the screen, explains them to you.” For heart health assessments, the CarePod opens a tray, extracts a sensor, and instructs patients to hold the sensor against their heart.

For those wary of needles, CarePods offer a unique solution—a vacuum chamber, referred to as a “capillary blood draw,” which attaches to the patient’s upper arm, extracting a small blood sample painlessly in two to four minutes.

Despite the AI-driven approach, human medical experts play a role in the process. After the session, off-site doctors review the results, accessible through Forward’s mobile app. Patients can also consult with a doctor via call while inside the CarePod.

Forward envisions future advancements in the technology, with plans to develop apps for prenatal care, advanced cancer screenings, and genetic analysis to assess the risk of developing inherited diseases.

While Forward raised $100 million in November, the success of CarePods remains uncertain, considering the cautionary tale of Theranos, a now-infamous blood-testing startup. Additionally, AI, while promising, is not without flaws, as evidenced by studies revealing errors in generated medical information. Forward’s venture is supported by notable investors, including ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Mustafa Suleyman, co-founder of Google’s AI division, DeepMind.

By Impact Lab