Advertisement

AI doctor's offices at the mall and gym will let you test your own blood — with no trained medics onsite

AI doctor's offices at the mall and gym will let you test your own blood — with no trained medics onsite
The exterior of Forward's CarePod, a pale grey futuristic looking square box with a door.
CarePods are expected to be deployed across the US starting in 2024.Forward
  • Forward unveiled its AI medical offices, CarePods, that don't require human doctors to be present.

  • The health startup says CarePods will be able to test for diseases and draw blood using advanced AI.

  • CarePods will be deployed in malls and gyms across the US from 2024, starting at $99 a month.

AI-powered doctor's offices could be coming to a mall or workplace near you — and they may be able to draw your blood without any medical professionals present.

Earlier this week, Forward, a health-tech startup, unveiled its CarePods, a series of self-serving doctor's offices. Designed by experts from universities like Harvard and John Hopkins, the CarePod is intended to act as as a trained medic that can address both general and specialized health needs.

The goal: to make primary medical care more accessible. Starting in 2024, Forward plans to deploy them in malls, gyms, and offices across San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and other US cities. Memberships start at $99 per month, and no appointment is required.

Inside look at Forward's AI-doctors offices called CarePods
Forward's CarePods include advanced AI technology that can conduct medical exams on patients.Forward

Patients will be able step into the white cuboid structures and access a wide range of health services, Forward said, by selecting what it calls health apps on a screen.

These will include a biometric body scan, weight management, and diabetes screening. Some of the apps, the health-tech startup said, can assess the health of a patient's heart, thyroid, kidney, and liver. There are even AI apps that test for diseases like COVID-19 and HIV, and monitor mental health challenges.

A patient selects an app for a heart exam on an interactive CarePod screen.
In the CarePods, patients can receive medical services by selecting one of many health apps.Forward

Each option will provide patients with instructions on how to receive the service using advanced AI capabilities.

"Let's say you choose the body scan app," Adrian Aoun, the CEO and founder of Forward, told Axios. "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."

If patients choose the "heart health" app, the CarePod will open a tray, take out a sensor, and instruct them to hold the sensor against their heart, according to Axios.

A CarePod patient presses a device against his chest to self-conduct a heart test, mirroring the action demonstrated by a figure on the screen.
A CarePod's patient self-conducting a heart exam with guidance from AI.Forward

The service could also be a boon for patients squeamish about needles. The CarePods, Aoun said, will hand out a vacuum chamber — a device known as a "capillary blood draw" that the CEO says is similar to a leech — that attaches to a patient's upper arm and sucks out a small sample of blood in two to four minutes.

"There's no needle, there's no knife, and nothing hurts right now," he told Axios. Forward didn't respond to Business Insider's immediate request for comment before publication.

But the process won't be totally free of human medical experts. Once the session is complete, doctors off-site will review the patients' results, which they can access through Forward's mobile app, Axios reported. Patients can also talk to a doctor on a call while in the CarePod.

Images of Forward's mobile app showing blood pressure measurements, a body scan and a screen to select medications.
Patients of CarePods can access their medical results through Forward's mobile app.Forward

The technology is expected to get more advanced over time. Forward plans to create apps that can conduct prenatal care, advanced cancer screenings, and genetic analysis that detects a patient's risk of developing an inherited disease.

The rollout comes after the company announced it raised $100 million in November as AI takes the medical industry by storm. But it's not clear if the CarePods will work as promised — just look at Theranos, the now-infamous failed blood-testing startup.

And AI is still prone to spitting out errors. A recent study found that OpenAI's ChatGPT generated cancer treatment plans full of incorrect information. Another study found that the AI chatbot provides false answers to medical-related questions about drugs.

Forward is backed by investors including ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt and cofounder of Google's AI division DeepMind Mustafa Suleyman.

Read the original article on Business Insider