The doctor’s office of the future: AI, big data and no wait times!

The doctor’s office of the future: AI, big data and no wait times!

By Gopi Kuppuraj

A Silicon Valley startup launched by ex-Google and Uber employees aims to combine annual health check with artificial intelligence and big data analytics to increase patient health outcomes.

Patience test: A true story

Imagine your appointment at the doctor’s office for the annual health exam. The spacious waiting rooms, health motivation posters on the wall, mahogany chairs, and a friendly receptionist at the front desk. You check-in fifteen minutes before your appointment and the kind lady is typing your data on the front desk computer. You glance at the screen and the user-interface resembles something like Windows 95! You wonder, “Are my records safe? I thought technology is revolutionizing the healthcare record systems.” A few minutes later, you are directed to the waiting rooms. Five more minutes to the appointment. You are awaiting your turn. Ten minutes. Fifteen minutes. Twenty minutes.

You get frustrated why you are kept in the waiting room for so long. The staff apologizes that it is the volume of patients and procedures. Your turn finally comes thirty minutes after the scheduled time. The doctor spends ten minutes reviewing your records. And before you realize, the appointment is over. You are now being taken to the exam rooms to do blood tests and body scans. But not microbiome or genetic profiling exams and wearables. The nurse informs that you will have to go to another hospital to get those done.

While this story seems far-fetched, unfortunately, it is the reality most of us experience when visiting a physician’s office.

Forward thinking:

What if there is a doctor’s office that can remove the above inefficiencies?

Enter Forward.

Founded by former employees of Google and Uber, Forward is a concierge medical service operating in a health membership model. It combines a doctor’s office with new technology to help manage patients’ health including genetics, cancer screening, cardiovascular health and general health tracking.

Some state-of-the-art tools of Forward’s customized doctor’s office are:

  1. Body Scanner: A non-invasive tongue depressor that collects patient’s vital signs like body temperature, blood pressure, pulse, and heart health in less than a minute. It also tracks trends and immediately syncs the results to the doctor.
  2. Touch Display Panel: This replaces doctor’s paper notes, files, and clipboards. The in-built voice recognition sensor captures the important conversations between patient and the doctor. This frees up doctor’s time to type or write notes and instead focus on patient’s questions and concerns.
  3. Wearables and instruments such as a real-time blood analyzer that generates results within twelve minutes and a DNA sequencer that can screen 30 hereditary cancer-related genes.

The service also includes round-the-clock access to Forward’s nurses and doctors via a specialized app and automated syncing of health records and test results on patients’ phones.

Data-driven doctors:

Forward’s in-house algorithms use artificial intelligence, machine learning and analytics to assess the next steps and generate actions for its staff and nurses to reach out proactively to the patients. The data generated from the patient visits, test results and wearables are stored and backed up in the company’s secure cloud and not physically present in the doctor’s office.

Perhaps the most important feature of Forward’s technology is the reduction of patient waiting times and increasing time with the physicians. Forward claims a wait time of two minutes while the average patient wait times in the US are thirty-eight minutes. This has led to one hour doctor-patient interaction time, where a patient can discuss a personalized plan based on their health exam and diagnosis results. The app is also location enabled and will let the Forward staff know the patient location in real-time. Based on this information, the staff can determine if patients are not on time for the appointment.

Moving forward:

Forward charges a monthly membership of $149 per patient, and it is billed annually. Patients still have to buy insurance to cover services like hospitalizations, surgeries, and specialist care. The company promotes their services as a supplement to a health-insurance plan, not a substitute. However, about 15% of its early users come from underserved communities and have received Forward’s free membership. Each member also gets their first month of prescription medicine free of charge through Forward’s onsite pharmacy. The startup also plans to offer vitamins, supplements and wearables through its on site pharmacy store in the near future.

Featured image courtesy of David Zentz.

This Silicon Valley startup foresaw the inevitable integration of AI and Big Data into healthcare and developed what may become the doctor’s office of the future. Are you looking for the next great innovation that could redefine your industry? If so, we can help. Contact us today!

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