Forward brings an entirely new perspective to primary care, changing the way people think about and manage their health. In this series, we’ll introduce you to our technology, explain our care philosophy, and talk to the inspiring doctors, nurses, and members who are helping us improve the system.
Ever wonder what it’s like inside the doctor’s office of the future?
Since Forward completely reimagined primary care, there isn’t a lot to compare us to. So, we tend to get a lot of questions about what it’s like to be a Forward member. Well, you don’t have to take our word for it. We sat down with Meghan, who just joined our San Francisco location, to hear about her expectations and overall impressions so far.
Tell us a bit about why you joined Forward.
Well, I just had a birthday that felt significant. Thiiiiiiiiirty five. Not really super young anymore, and it seemed like a good time to start thinking about longevity. I don’t have kids yet, and I’m officially in the zone where I need to stop pretending like I have all the time in the world. There are also some scary things in my family history, like cancer and heart stuff.
Did you have any expectations going in?
To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect! I was pretty curious about the “body scanner” which sounded like something straight out of a movie. Would it make a noise? Would there be some kind of light ray that would come out, or what?
I was also curious to understand how the app component worked. I was a little worried that all the tech would mean I’d be dealing with more screens than people. But as it turns out, the app connects me to my actual care team. Not just articles or an automated system.
Forward isn’t just one thing. It’s a real private doctor and care team AND an app AND health coaching. The reason I couldn’t quite get my head around it before was because it’s a totally new model.
Walk us through your first appointment Baseline experience.
So, I walk in, and it’s this very non-doctory space. It’s like a minimalist West Elm or something. I was looking for a reception desk, but there wasn’t one. Just a very nice person who took my coat and asked me to step on the scanner.
Oh, so the body scanner. It’s like a scale with a full-length computer screen. No weird rays, as it turns out. But it read my temperature, height, weight, and some other vitals in like a minute. That was the check-in! She brought me some sparkling water because I’m very fancy, and then I went straight into the exam room.
What was your impression of the exam room?
Well, first off, major style upgrade from the backless robe. I put on some Lululemon comfies and sat in the giant Flight of the Navigator armchair that faces this jumbo screen. And that’s basically the exam room. No paper-covered table or ugly paintings. Just a super clean space that kinda felt like a spa, if it was on a spaceship.
The care team came in first to take blood. I have the world’s most invisible veins, so I usually get poked 5 or 6 times. But they had a little device that showed them exactly where my veins are, and they got it on the first try.
So this is when it gets really interesting. Doctor Barry Breaux walks in — total superhero name, by the way — and lights up the screen. Everything I said was popping up in front of me, and was being saved under the topics we were discussing. And the results of my bloodwork were also populating in real time so we could discuss what the numbers meant.
It was like pulling back the curtain, and seeing how doctors interpret information. I’m not dehydrated. How do I know? Because my electrolyte levels are right there. The science of it all is so fascinating.
How was talking with the doctor different?
We talked for an hour and a half! I’ve never had that kind of time with a doctor before. We covered all the normal stuff you’d expect, but then went on to the actual day-to-day of my life. From the foods that make me sleepy, to how my right knee hurts when I run… all of that. So, it’s official. Dr. Breaux knows me better than any doctor I’ve ever met. After one day.
The Baseline also helped to explain my questions about the techy side of Forward. I think I was worried that I’d be interacting with app screens more than human beings.
Anything else stand out?
Genetic testing! Those results apparently take a week to come back, so I’m still waiting. I make good lifestyle choices, for the most part. I don’t eat red meat, I try to get enough sleep. But, when it comes to something like cancer, you can’t necessarily green-juice your way out of it. So rather than sit around with my fingers crossed, I decided to know as much as I can right now. Which, by the way, is both awesome and terrifying.
Can you expand on that?
Well, ignorance is bliss, right? Until it isn’t. I feel totally fine right now. But I’m fully aware that my blood tests could show that I have the BRCA gene. And then I’d have to make decisions.
I guess it’s more accurate to say that I’d GET to make decisions.
As scary as it can be to face reality, I want to know that I’m doing everything I possibly can right now. Gotta stay healthy for these hypothetical children I may have someday.
What happened after your appointment was over?
As I was leaving, the care team fitted me for a sleep monitor ring, just so we can see how work affects my rest.
Oh, and all of my info is in my app!
I actually HAVE my health records. I feel like I’ve never seen them before, in my whole life. That my chart was somehow this thing I wasn’t allowed to see.
And now, it’s all there for me to reference anytime I want — in a way I can understand.
A couple days out, my care team has already followed up with me about a few things we discussed. My exercise goals, a few suggestions on fitness apps I might like, and to see how my throat is feeling. It was really nice! Usually with the doctor, it’s out of sight, out of mind. But when they ping my app, I remember that my health is a team effort now.
Has your experience with Forward so far changed the way you think about health?
Oh, yeah. For one, I’m kind of amazed that all doctors aren’t like this. Everything else seems so surface-level now. Like, what have we even been doing? And I feel like I’m being really responsible. Something about seeing my data up on a screen made me appreciate my body more. It’s working so hard all the time in ways I’d never really thought about. This is it, this is the only one I get, so I’d better take care of it. Lastly, I feel incredibly supported. I’m not going it alone — I have a team of people at the ready every day.
And this is just the beginning! I’m only a few days in, and I already feel optimistic — like I have a say in whether or not I get sick. This whole experience has been better than I ever imagined.
Hear more stories from our members here.