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Skip the wait to see a doctor? Self-service, AI-powered CarePods offer immediate care

Whether driven by a shortage of medical professionals or financial constraints, healthcare accessibility is a global challenge. A startup called Forward believes one solution is to offer people a self-service option, which is why it's introducing the CarePod, which it calls 'the world's first AI doctor's office.' CarePod will offer AI-powered diagnostic tools for preventative care and monitoring in a self-service, standalone unit.

Patients step inside, check in with an app and get access to vital sign measurements, biometric body scans and blood testing, with additional screening options to follow. According to Forward, its health apps can help people address a range of diseases, including diabetes, hypertension, depression and anxiety. All data collected during a patient's visit is transmitted to Forward's care platform, which uses a combination of AI and human medical staff to continuously monitor treatment response, identify disease risks and evaluate the health of its users.

The pods will be placed in public spaces like malls, gyms and offices. With an ambitious plan to double its presence in 2024, Forward is targeting major urban areas like San Francisco, New York, Chicago and Philadelphia for its initial rollout. The company raised USD 100 million in growth capital to manufacture and deploy its CarePods, and the service will operate on a membership model, starting at USD 99 per month.

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From South Korea to the US to Egypt, doctors are in short supply. And that goes double for primary care providers, who've traditionally been the first port of call for anyone seeking care. Forward's CarePod addresses that gap with an offering that's convenient and on-demand — no more struggling to find a family doctor or booking an appointment that may be weeks or months out. Moreover, by placing CarePods in locations like malls and offices, Forward embeds proactive healthcare into the daily fabric of users' lives, much like a gym or favorite coffee shop.

Concepts like the CarePod won't be able to replace human physicians and in-person visits, but their focus on prevention and monitoring could substantially alleviate pressure on primary care. By combining advanced diagnostics and generative AI's power to rapidly synthesize patient data, AI-driven solutions might even outshine their human counterparts at connecting the dots in a patient's healthcare journey. One to bring to your part of the world?

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