Ex-Googler launches Forward startup and medical practice to apply artificial intelligence to healthcare

Adrian Aoun said the emerging company will be built on beautiful hardware and software, and compared the vision to Tesla cars. 
By Jack McCarthy
09:56 AM
Googler Forward Adrian Aoun

Former Google employee Adrian Aoun announced a healthcare startup named Forward on Tuesday and opened its first doctor’s office in San Francisco.

Aoun said he has developed a service leveraging data-driven, real-time healthcare technologies and reformed the role of doctors to free them from bureaucratic tasks and, in turn, to make healthcare feel comforting and smart to patients.

Aoun, who worked on artificial intelligence at Google and ran the special projects division at Alphabet, wrote in a Forward blog post that the inspiration came getting involved with the healthcare experience a family member went through. 

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“The entire system looked to me like it had been frozen in time for decades,” Aoun added. “I was deeply disappointed with what I saw.” 

[Also: AI, cognitive computing, machine learning coming to healthcare: Time to invest?]

The startup is a concierge service, monthly memberships cost $149, and patients need to buy insurance to cover things like hospitalizations, surgeries and specialist care.

Some of the technologies and practices Forward is bringing together so far include a body scanner that gives rapid picture of overall health, real-time blood testing that finds issues proactively in 12 minutes, DNA sequencing to discover hereditary cancer risks, 24/7 access to Forward’s nurses and doctors via the company’s app, and making health data and results always available on patients’ phones.

Aoun wrote that Forward will be built on real-time tools to guide decisions and plans, including AI that can predict adverse health events, and “beautiful software and hardware, the likes of which we’ve come to know and love from companies like Tesla.”

Forward has gained the interest of venture capitalists, reportedly including Khosla Ventures, Peter Thiel's Founders Fund, Alphabet executive chairman Eric Schmidt, and salesforce.com founder Marc Benioff.

But the startup has just begun its journey, Aoun wrote, again referencing the Tesla model.

“Our system is smart, but it’s not yet cheap,” he wrote. “It’s more like a Tesla Model S than like a Model 3. We have a long way to go in making what we do affordable for everyone, not just for the kinds of people who are fortunate enough to be in a position to spend money for better health. Fortunately, the same technologies that make the system smarter also make it cheaper over time.” 

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