#126: Adrian Aoun, Founder and CEO of Forward

Today, I’m joined by Adrian Aoun, founder and CEO of Forward, a technology-driven healthcare system.

Forward started from scratch to build a system that’s completely different and radically improves healthcare. With in-person clinics and digital monitoring tools, the company is on a mission to lower costs, improve results, and make quality care available to those who need it most.

In this episode, we talk about reimagining healthcare from the ground up by vertically integrating every aspect of the experience. Adrian also shares his vision to create a more personalized, preventative, and affordable healthcare system.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • How Forward’s technology is reinventing healthcare
  • Why current incentives in healthcare are counterproductive to our well-being
  • Forward’s strategies for dramatically reducing healthcare costs

Links & Resources

Adrian Aoun’s Links

Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Adrian:
Forward wants to rebuild the entire healthcare system from the ground up. I mean that. That’s literal, that’s not rhetoric. You name it, we want to do it. From open-heart surgery to delivering babies. Oncology to pharma. We want to rebuild it all.

Here’s the catch: it’s probably going to take us a few decades, at minimum.

[00:00:25] Joe:
Welcome back to the Fitt Insider podcast. I’m your host, Joe Vennare.

Today I’m joined by Adrian Aoun, Founder and CEO of Forward, a technology driven healthcare system.

In this episode we talk about reimagining healthcare from the ground up by vertically integrating every aspect of the experience.

Adrian also shares his vision to create a more personalized, preventative, and affordable healthcare system.

Let’s get into it.

Hi, Adrian Welcome to Fitt Insider. Thanks for joining us.

[00:00:48] Adrian:
Pleasure to be here. Thanks so much for having me.

[00:00:50] Joe:
I’m looking forward to today’s conversation.

Just to kick things off for folks who aren’t familiar with Forward, can you introduce yourself and tell us about Forward?

[00:00:58] Adrian:
Absolutely. I’m Adrian Aoun, Founder and CEO of Forward. Were are a national healthcare system here in the United States. We’re trying to rethink healthcare from the ground up.

If you look at the existing healthcare system, you and I know, and basically everybody knows it’s pretty broken.

We started looking at that and said, “Wait a minute, why’s it broken?”

One of the things that you realize is it wasn’t really built for you, and wasn’t really built for me. It was built for the insurance companies. It was built to get them rich, as opposed to keeping us healthy.

Then we started to re-imagine it; we said, “What would it look like if it was actually built for us?” So we started a healthcare system for you, and a healthcare system for me. One that’s actually meant to keep us healthy, as opposed to just getting them rich.

We start with things like preventing illness, as opposed to waiting for you to get sick and trying to fix things when it’s too late.

We’ve got locations all throughout the United States. We use a whole bunch of technology that we’ve built to monitor your health and prevent things from cancer to heart attacks, and kind of keep you going your best throughout your everyday. We have locations everywhere. We also pair it with all the modern things like genetics, sensors, wearables, and all that to keep you at your best all day long.

[00:02:11] Joe:
Yeah, super compelling concept, re-imagining healthcare. I think a lot of folks, to your point, think of it as sick care. It’s after the fact when we’re already not doing so great, we have to go in and see a doctor. A lot of times it can be too late.

I would think a lot of companies say they are re-imagining healthcare. They’re creating a new healthcare system. They’re fixing sick care.

What are you doing, or how are you approaching this differently, from folks that might say the same thing?

[00:02:45] Adrian:
Yeah. So, so look at the end of the day, if you go look at basically every single healthcare system out there, every single company that wants to, you know, say quote unquote, Okay. Are they all kind of roughly do the same thing? Right. And like the reality is you and I we’ve all had the same experience, so I’ll give you an example.

So for me, I was a one medical member for a bunch of years. Right. And, and, and in fact, my family, basically, almost every male in my family had a heart attack. So what did I do while I went into one medical and I was like, okay, you guys were like, what should I do? And they looked at me and I like, kind of like gave me my little physical and so all of six minutes.

Right. And they looked at me and like, you were. And I was like, wait a minute. You know, we kind of all been there. Right. I looked at them and I’m like, well, well, hold on, my dad’s had a heart attack. My brothers had a heart attack, my uncles that are like, what do you mean I’m healthy? Right. I’m thinking for a minute.

Well, what’s my probability of death. I’m like a hundred percent like I’m going to die. It’s a boy. And in fact, we kind of know what I’m going to die from. We know I’m going to die of ours. Like, what the hell is this person telling me I’m healthy? And like, you get it right. Like, you know, what they’re really saying is I kind of don’t want to deal with your shit right now because it’s going to cost me money.

But you ever notice how. I mean, you, you just like everybody else, you ever noticed how your employer walks up to you every year. And they’re like, Hey, it’s time to get your flu shot. It’s time to get your flu shot. It’s time to get your flu shot. Well, let me just ask you how many people do you know that are dying of the flu?

Like not a single one, right? So why the hell is everybody’s so focused on the damn flu, but they’re not focused on the things that we know are killing us like you, and I know tons of people are dying of heart disease cancer, but nobody’s walking up to us saying like, wait a minute, let’s talk Joe, about.

The cholesterol, the blood pressure. Let’s talk about the cancer that you might be getting. In fact, do you ever think of how fucked up it is that like the first time you get a cancer doctor is after you get cancer? Like what the hell do you want me to get brakes on my car? After I get into an accident?

Like this is insane, right? So I’m standing there at one medical. This dude’s telling me like, oh, you’re healthy, you’re fine. And all I’m thinking is, no, you just don’t care. And so I leave and I’m kind of like, I’m feeling a little helpless, right. And like, like any standard, you know, like nerd at home, I’m like, I’m, I’ve got my DNA sequence.

I’ve got all my wearables, I’ve got all this data and I’m like, I kind of don’t know what to do with them. So I go walk around, I go to a bunch of doctors, one of the best of the best, right. I’m a very fortunate person. So I go to a bunch of these doctors and I start handing them a bunch of this data. And these doctors kind of look at me and they’re like, Hey dude, like, this is awesome, but I’m not equipped.

I don’t know what to do with all this. And I’m like, okay, now we’ve got a problem. Right? You’ve got, you’ve got awesome doctors that are like, I want to help you. This is why I got into the ball. And like, I literally like. Cool for 18 million years. And I’ve been trying my whole life to help you. And I’ve got this health care system built around these like frankly asshole insurers who literally have zero injuries, like pretend to help us with our damn flu shots.

But really all they want to do is like, wait for you to get sick. And I’m like, okay, now, now we’ve got the problem that we got to solve. Now we’ve identified this, right. So we did is we said, okay, let’s create a healthcare system that literally just says, okay, let’s just use all the data the way it was meant to be.

So Forward’s really simple, right? You come into Forward. And the first thing we do is we literally just say, wait a minute, your body is giving us an enormous amount of clues, but you ever think about the fact that your heart is beating like literally millions of times per day. Okay. Well, nobody’s listening to that.

How insane is it that like you buy, you buy a car. First thing you do is you buy a car alarm, you buy a house. First thing you do is you, you, you put ADT into your house, right? Your phone has tracking. Everything has tracking. And your body, literally the most important thing nobody’s monitoring it. It’s like how, like, how did we wake up in the year 20, 22?

And nobody is paying attention to the, like the one thing that is literally life or death. So Forward started really simple and said, let’s pay attention to what your body is telling us. So you come into Ford. And the first thing that we do is we start to get what we call a baseline of understanding of your health.

And this starts as simple thing. first we do things like a body scan where we’ve built this, this pretty awesome. It’s a very sexy devices, pull body scanner. It takes everything from, from readings about what your lungs and your heart are doing to, to thermal scans of your body. But then we take, we take blood readings, we take urine readings.

We even sequence your DNA. We’re trying to get a pretty complete picture of what is going on. We take all this information. You go into the exam room with your doctor, and now this is pretty cool. Cause we’ve got this awesome screen on the wall that we’ve developed. It’s got a model of your body and all the information we’ve learned has been overlaid on top, but it’s a smart screen.

So as you and your doctor are talking about things, it starts pulling up all the relevant information that we’ve learned about. In fact, any, anything your doctor wants to use in the exam room, they take a stethoscope to you. Boom. It starts showing the live readings. You can literally see your heart beating on the screen right in front of you.

Your doctor wants to start understanding your cancerous. They’re not like staring at your moles, like, like we’re in the 18 hundreds. They take the Forward dermatoscope that literally is a high resolution 3d camera that kind of scans your skin to map out all your moles and lesions. Again, the idea is really simple.

We want to get as much information as possible to understand what is going on with you. We want to unearth the clues so that you are empowered to make decisions about your. And so once we get that kind of baseline, we can start to help guide you along the path of what are the best ways to kind of prevent illness that might come your way or to treat illness that has already come your way.

And then what’s pretty cool. Because we know that your health isn’t something that happens, you know, once or twice a year in the doctor’s office. Then when we do is we send you along your way with these treatment plans that are kind of custom tailored for you. And we send you home with sensors that kind of are relevant to kind of allow us to keep monitoring, keep an eye on the things that matter for you.

And what’s cool. Your, your care team consists of your doctor and a whole bunch of, we have a worldwide team now, hundreds of medical professionals that are monitoring your health in real time. So they’re just kind of keeping an eye on things for you. It’s the same way that like ADT is like keeping an eye on your house and making sure your house is nice and safe.

Well, now, you know, that people are always right there for you, making sure that your health is, nice and safe at all times. Just a click away from your phone twenty four seven. And so you start to realize like, wait a minute, this is the way healthcare should be. Not the health, not the way that, you know, healthcare was built by, you know, the, these crazy people that like in many ways, just don’t give a shit about you. And so this is what, this is what we set out to do a few years ago. We’re still, we’re still very early. We’re only a few years in, but we’re already live and I don’t know, 20, 25 cities around the country and it’s a, and it’s taken off already. And so we’re, so it’s been a pretty exciting journey.

[00:09:26] Joe:
I think a lot of people listening to you, much like myself are nodding their head and they’re saying, yeah, exactly. Like this is the thing that we wish we had, obviously we’ve wished there was some level of not only empathy. you know, tech and monitoring that was going into this prevention that was going into this kind of continuous insight into all the various things that are happening with our bodies, such that, you know, we just don’t get kind of, laid up and, or find ourselves in the hospital.

But to your point, The health insurance companies have to make money. So when you think about how Forward, I think a lot of companies come into the digital health space and say, you know, we’re going to do it differently. And then over time they find themselves like slowly getting beaten down by, you know, how do we pay for this?

How do we charge people? How do we make money? So I know obviously there’s the, the membership model $149 a month. But like, how is that? Even able to get you to a place where here sustainable making money and able to continue to grow that.

[00:10:27] Adrian:
Totally. Totally. So one of the, one of the hardest things in the world of healthcare is that at some point you have to take this incredibly, incredibly disciplined view of like at some point, and I don’t know what I’m allowed to do. On your, on your podcast. But if you’ll allow me to be a little blunt, at some point, you have to say like, fuck it.

Why the hell am I in this game? And most people, if we’re going to be honest, most people start companies for the wrong reasons. Most people start companies cause like, you know what, I’m gonna start a company because I want to get rich. I’m gonna start a company because I want to get fans zone as our company.

IPO. Well, and you know what, when you do that, the first thing you do is, oh God, look at all this insurance money. Oh God, I can just, I can work with the healthcare system. I can, I can just get off the ground super fast, get off the ground super easy. And you know what, when you do that, you’re going to be a part of the problem.

Going to start taking the insurance money and you’re going to start fueling the exact same fire that we have today, which is like literally the Bain, the bane of our existence. And literally. Is it stealing 20% of the money in this country? Healthcare is 20% of GDP and it literally does almost nothing for this country.

Right. They take 20% of every person’s doll. It’s like the biggest sham in this country. And that’s what most people end up as part of. And I think it’s got to stop. Okay. So Forward we, we have a luxury. Candidly. We did not start this company because we’re trying to get rich. We did not start this company cause we want to get famous.

This is our life’s work. We are here because we want to help as many people as possible. Right? Our goal is to get healthcare out, to not just, not even just the United States. Our goal is to get healthcare out to the planet. We want to get, we want to get healthcare to the middle of India in the middle of Rwanda.

And I know that sounds all preachy instead of. I’m telling you genuinely, that is why we are here. When, so when you think about that, one of the first things you do is you wake up and you say, yeah, it turns out like, no matter what, we’re just not going to play that game. You know, that is just not why we’re here.

Now. It turns out that it’s a total fucking nightmare, right? Yes. It’s a hell of a lot harder because we have to go up to our members and we have to charge them when we could just very easily go sign their employers and sign, you know, these insurance companies. But here’s the deal. At some point, you guys got to ask yourself, what do you want. You want to build Tesla or do you want to build Ford? And at the end of the day, I am not here to build for it. I’m here to build Tesla, right? I am not here to build a crappy existing system. I am here to say like, either let’s do it right. Or let’s not bother because the existing system, like nobody, nobody would half a brain actually believes that the existing system is going to work, but you’re totally right.

We’re on a long. So most startups say, you know, let’s go ahead, let’s spend two, three years on this thing and then we’ll be happy and then we’ll have made it. No, I think we’ll be working on this thing for decades to come and yes, it’s a complete nightmare. Now there’s some parts where you say, yeah, it’s a complete nightmare, but you know what?

Maybe it’s a little easier and go, what do you mean? It’s easier ager. Well, you know what, at some point when you realize. I don’t have to deal with billing codes. I don’t have to deal with wrong incentives. You know, what’s pretty great about my job. We get to do what’s right for the customer. I don’t have hundreds of engineers sitting there figuring out new ways to scam my customers and build them.

I have hundreds of engineers sitting there literally figuring out new ways to save lives. Like how awesome is that? You know, you want to see how happy by my teams are in comparison to their teams. Like any day of the week, people are a hell of a lot happier. We, we skipped to work. They don’t, I assure you on that.

Right. And so at the end of the day, I can go home and sleep well and I’m not sure they can. And that’s something I, I I’ll take to the grave and day of the week. So yes, it’s a hell of a lot harder, but man, is it way more reward?

[00:13:55] Joe:
Not that I think it matters to you. but just, I would be curious, what, or maybe it’s on the flip side, what type of feedback or rumblings have you heard from the kind of traditional healthcare system or do they kind of say like, Hey, we wish we could do this or are they kind of like resentful of you saying, you know, this is a sham they’re wasting our money and it’s really not moving in the right direction.

[00:14:21] Adrian:
Yeah. You know, so, so you can’t paint everybody with the same brush. So the first thing I’ll tell you, So we hire a lot of doctors, nurses, medical assistants around here. And I will tell you, I’ve had, I probably met with a few thousand doctors at this point. we do a lot of recruiting around here, as you can imagine.

We, I think we employ, I don’t know, a hundred, 150 doctors at this point or something like that. and the thing I will tell you, I have not met. Period full stop who says, wow, the healthcare system is awesome. In fact, every single one of them is like, I got into this to help people. And if, if the healthcare system would get the fuck out of my way, maybe I would actually enjoy my job.

Every single one of them hates the healthcare system, like period, full stop. Like I, I, you, you basically can’t generalize in this world except in the circumstance where like literally every single one of them is like, all they’re doing is standing in between me and doing. Thing for people, like, think of how, how awful that is.

Right? Imagine you were, imagine you were an engineer, right. You just graduated from, I dunno, Stanford, you, you go to work, you’re excited. You’re like, I’m going to go build things and you show up at Ford. And the first thing I do is I give you a laptop from the nineties. You’re like, what are you talking about?

Like, I’m trying, I’m trying to build. What are you going to do? You’re going to quit. You’re going to be like, I can go somewhere else and I can get a laptop from the year 2022 you just gave me a laptop from the nineties. Like you literally just like took my hands and handcuffed them behind my back. You made me literally incompetent.

That’s what it’s like to be a doctor. Right? It’s like you want to you’re you’re a razors, your gal, all this training. You’re really smart. You’re really well-meaning. And the insurance company has just came up to you and well, like, yeah, you know what, fuck you. I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that you cannot be a good human.

And you’re like, and yet you’re such a good human that you still show up to work for the rest of your life. Like that’s how awesome doctors are. Right. And so part of what we tried to do at four, it is really simple. We literally just tried to build them. Like please, like, we just want to get your backs in a way that they have not gotten your backs.

And man, is it a tall order? Because for decades nobody’s built them good tools. So they got really excited when we, when we, like, I don’t know when we, when we build like the most simple things, imagine like giving you a pen and pad of paper and you got excited. It’d be like, what are you talking about?

Well, hold on in the old world, I got kicked every day when I came to work and in the new world, they don’t kick me in the end. So it’s like Stockholm syndrome, you know what I mean? And so look, there’s great people in the healthcare system, there’s also terrible people in the healthcare system, you know, I’ve met with an enormous amount of these exacts and I’ll tell you, like, some of them are like, they sit there and like, oh yeah.

So that’s, the system is terrible. Yes, we should change it. I’m like, yes. As you make $200 million, like, you know, it’s screw you. Like, that’s not cool. Right? Well, you don’t get to complain about it and get rich off it. I don’t think that’s chill. but look at the end of the day, I don’t sit here super focused on that so much as I sit here super focused on like, again, the people who need help, like the kid in middle America, who’s got nothing.

Isn’t sitting here going well, let’s talk about the insurer and this just like. Give me the fucking help I need. Give me the product that I need. The kid who was sitting in the middle of Rwanda does not care at all about ACO is a Medicare and universal this and universal that he’s just like, I need help. And so at the end of the day, we try to ignore all that noise and just build people to products, build people to the things that they need.

And if you keep your eye on the customer and kind of ignore the fray of the industry, that hopefully you’ll do the right.

[00:17:44] Joe:
Yeah. You mentioned being early, kind of in the process and doing this for a number of decades. and so kind of building the technology, you have this screen that the doctor uses to sit down with the patient or member, you have folks come in and they’re getting their, you know, gene sequencing and getting the biometrics and the wearables that go along with that, obviously I’m assuming the doctor spending way more time, right with that member than they would in a typical doctor’s office.

What types of outcomes impact have you started to see at this point? to say, not only is this. Anecdotally the way we should be doing things, but no, actually this is what’s happening as a result of us doing it this

[00:18:25] Adrian:
Yeah. So I love talking outcomes. It comes. I’ll tell you how it comes, because like in the world, you know, like let’s look at every, every part of the world. If you go up to the automotive industry and you’re like talk outcomes, everybody Forwards, like, okay, our car goes zero to 60 in 3.3 portions, like zero to 60 and 2.9, you’ve got actual numbers.

And then you go talk outcomes in the world of healthcare. And everybody gets really wishy-washy and they’re like, well, our outcomes. And it’s like, wait, Can you give me a number and no, they really can’t give you a number. And so, and so you . Realize like, it’s, again, it’s all part of their master sham, as I call it now, now think about why, well, you got a couple problems here.

So the first problem is, you know, if you walk up to, I don’t know, you walk up to Kaiser and you say, what are your outcomes? the first thing you’ll see, is it, well, they only give you numbers for the people that walked in the door and it’s like, well, yeah, but you got, you have like the world’s worst products. So people only go to Kaiser when they’re like, based on their deathbed. Nobody like wakes up in the morning, excited to go to Kaiser. And so like, We actually try to get you to come into Ford before you have a problem. Right. Whereas Kaiser is like, wow, okay. You come into our ER, when you’re already on your death bed.

It’s the first, problem is they literally don’t have numbers for like the mass population that literally didn’t show up. The second issue is if you look at it, they don’t track people over time. They don’t like, actually know what happens. So you go to the doctor, they say, okay, you have this thing, take this medication.

You go. I don’t know if you got better. They don’t know if you’ve got worse. What they do know is did you come back in and build them? do they’ve got billing. Remember the whole healthcare system is built around billing codes. So, you know, their EMR is, the electronic medical records.

Those are not records just to be super clear. Those are not records of your. Those are Like, QuickBooks for doctors. Okay. So let’s be really, really clear. They’ve got invoicing systems in the world’s fanciest invoicing systems. They do not have that, outcomes of health. So if you go look, kind of common thing that, for example, Kaiser uses what’s called Hetus scores and he does scores are awesome because.

Outcomes. Okay. How often do people die? That’s what I want to know. Like, what’s going to be more important. How often do people die? That’s not what he does score is he does score. I’ll give you an example of the heat of score. How often did you tell somebody to get a mammogram? I’m like, but that’s not how often they died.

That’s how often you build them for doing a task. Right? And it’s like, again, you look at how screwed up this is. So in some ways I can tell you what Forwards outcomes. But I don’t know how to compare it to anybody else cause they don’t even have their outcome data. So let me give you some examples. So we were, we work on programs, to, to actually try and save lives.

So one of the things, and we’re, we’re very early, but one of the things that we’ve been focused on, obviously it’s heart health just turns out that, you know, people actually do die of heart issues in the United States. Uh it’s you know, as much as we talk about COVID, it turns out that heart issues are like way, way, way, way higher than COVID lately.

And, and so one of the things that. The focus on, was lowering people’s blood pressure, right? Like, well, it can literally what could be more important? Like this is really, really, really up there. Right. And so this is pretty awesome. So we have a heart health program. If you enroll in our heart health program, you’re basically four X as likely, to lower your blood pressure than, than if you don’t.

I was like, this is awesome. Right? Four X is likely to get to, to non hypertensive, is not. And, and I’m sure at some point we’ll go like actually publish real reports on that, but that was awesome, like this, and these are the sorts of things where it’s like, if we could get everybody to start publishing, like the actual outcome measures of, of, of the things that matter, I would love to be in that world and I hope.

Us Forward, progresses over time that we can start setting industry standards and benchmarks on this, not, Hey, it turns out we convinced you to, you know, do some procedure that got us an extra $240 from an insurance bill, because I’m pretty over that sort of nonsense.

[00:22:19] Joe:
Yeah, another piece of it that, I was curious about is obviously there are certain aspects where as a member, I would still have to interface with the traditional healthcare system. Right? So I’m paying this membership. And if I have to see a specialist, if I have to get surgery, if I do have something like cancer at that point, am I on my own?

Is there any type of way that you help me interface? What does that relationship.

[00:22:45] Adrian:
So this is one of the super obnoxious, things about, about technology disruption is it.

Takes time. So let me give you a kind of internet. So, imagine I . came up to you like 15 years ago and I’m like, I’ve got this thing and it’s called the Tesla model S and you should buy it.

It’s like super bad acids, this new thing, it’s called an electric car. and you’re like, okay, I guess you’ve sold me on this thing. in fact, I’m going to buy it and I want it this weekend because I’m going to go up to Tahoe this weekend. I’m like, well, hold on. It doesn’t actually have enough range to go up to Tahoe.

I mean, it will one day, but not yet. And you’re like, whatever, no big deal. I’ll stop at a gas station. And you’re like, well, hold on. It doesn’t work at normal gas stations. It needs a special gas station called the supercharger by I’ll stop it as soon as. Well, hold on. We actually haven’t built the superchargers yet.

And you’re like, at some point you’re like, what the fuck dude? You know? And it’s like, okay. You know, it turns out it’s really goddamn, annoying. So, 15 years later, no big deal. The batteries got better. The superchargers are everywhere now it works. But, and this is kind of the, entire notion of Tesla, which is, it takes a few decades to rebuild the entire automotive industry.

They’re not the only ones. So I don’t know if you remember that. The first iPhone came out, you look pretty young. So maybe you were like still at diapers or something. But when the first iPhone came out, everybody complained, they were like, this is the walled garden. And, and you know why? Because like before the iPhone, it’s like I had a GPS unit.

I had a digital camera. I had a Sony Walkman. And everybody was like, apple, will you just kind of go work with those? And apple was like, no, because we believe in this thing called the, this app future. And everybody’s like, yeah, but you don’t even have an app store, dude, what are you talking about? Right.

And that was like, give us time. So people complain to complain. 15 years later, the whole world has been rebuilt as apps. Now we don’t complain anymore. Right? Forward wants to rebuild the entire healthcare system from the ground up. I mean that that’s literal, that’s not rhetoric. It’s like you name it. We want to do it from open-heart surgery to delivering babies, to oncology, to pharma.

We want to rebuild it all. Now here’s the catch. It’s probably gonna take us a few decades at minimum. Okay. So we’re a little, we’re a little C now we’re a little crazy around here. we, maybe we’re delusional, but we really want to try and do it. Okay. So here’s the. The issue. Is that in the interim?

It’s a little like when you had your iPhone. Yeah. I’ve got my iPhone, but I still got my Walkman. I’ve got my iPhone and I still got my digital camera, but every year it gets a little better. So when Ford started, it was like, wow, what was Ford? Well, honestly it wasn’t that much. We hadn’t built that much.

And then, you know, six months later we launched, you know, genetic counseling and sequencing. Okay. Six months later, we launched our first forays into dermatology. Cool. Six months later, we launched our first forays into cardiology. Cool. Six months later, we launched our first forays into mental health. Cool.

Then we launched a little into weight loss. Cool. Then we launched a little into a prescription management. Cool. And then what you can see is we’re slowly but surely taking on more and more and more of healthcare and everyday it just requires you to leave our system just a little bit. A little bit less, a little bit less now you’re totally right.

We don’t do open heart surgery yet, but we will one day and we don’t do, we don’t deliver babies yet, but we will one day and that’s the whole ball game. The whole ball game is that one day we want to get there. And so the whole, the whole thesis of Ford’s really, really. We will either get healthcare to billions of billions of people rebuild this whole damn system.

Or we will leave an enormous crater of destruction in our path to do so. I don’t know it’s going to be one or the other man, but we’re, we’re definitely working on.

[00:26:14] Joe:
Yeah, super ambitious and really impressive as well. Just, you know, I think in coming out and saying it from the onset, the kind of my mind then logically goes to, if you already, at this point have continued to expand and offer all these different programs and the price has been $150. What does that look like as you get into open heart surgery?

Right. I think I read somewhere, maybe I listened to or heard on podcasts. You said. Do it for $0, you would. so how is it that then you continue to build out this sustainable model with charging the same amount or less, if that’s.

[00:26:49] Adrian:
Yeah. In fact, our whole, we, we will get cheaper and cheaper, so it’s not if we could, it’s when we will. Okay. So, so the mistake that everybody makes today is we all think of healthcare as a service. But healthcare shouldn’t be a service. Healthcare should be a product. And once you stop thinking of healthcare as a service and you start thinking of healthcare as a product, everything in your mind starts to change.

So when you think of a service, you think of things and you go, oh my God, how are you going to deliver open-heart surgery for like, for pennies on the dollar? That sounds insane. But when you think of things as products, then you go, well, of course, Google delivers the entirety of the world’s information to the whole fucking planet in charge of $0.

Like of course, products scale incredibly cheaply. Now let me just give you a really, really simple analogy. Okay. Let’s pretend you landed on this planet today. You’re literally an alien from outer space and you land on this planet. It’s your first time on this planet, and I want to explain two concepts to you.

One concept is the iPhone. Okay. It’s a small, a small little thing is about four or five inches, big fits in your hand. It, it literally has enough capacity to store all books ever written right here in the Palm of your hand. It has this thing that. Photograph is like a, literally a photographic memory. it can, it has microchips and AI processes.

It can connect you to all information on this planet in under about a second. Okay. it’s built by tiny little robots in, in little factory. and it’s called the iPhone. Okay. On the other hand, I described to you open heart surgery, open heart surgery is a little like, you know, when you’re, you know, when you’re having a steak dinner and you got like a little fork and knife, it’s a little like that, except it’s a really clean fork and it’s a really clean knife instead of a white tablecloth.

It’s like a, usually a blue tablecloth. And, instead of you wearing your normal t-shirt, the person is usually wearing. And they’ve got some plastic glasses on and oh yeah. And that same face mask that you wear outside during COVID they’re wearing one of those. Okay. So one of these, I tell you costs a hundred thousand dollars and one of these costs $399.

You’re from outer space. What are you going to say? You’re going to say, well, shit, the iPhone costs a hundred thousand dollars. And I say, no, actually the iPhone costs $399. And they’re like, what are you talking about? The other one just looks like this is the same thing as when I’m like eating my steak dinner.

Why the hell did that cost a hundred thousand dollars? And so let’s think this through why is open heart surgery a hundred thousand dollars? Like what went into that? So was there some, I don’t know, titanium or palladium or gold used in open heart surgery? No. Huh. Okay. Was there a $2 million machine used that like broke at the end of it?

No. So, what, what, like, where did this money go? was there like a bunch of consumable parts that we had to throw away? Well, I guess cotton swaps cost a couple bucks. I guess that tablecloth was like two bucks, I guess that really sterile knife was probably $3 and 99 cents. So no. So where did this a hundred thousand dollars go?

And you quickly realize it went to two. The first place that it went was, well, you know, those insurance companies go look at their profits. They made a lot of money last year. They got to make it somewhere. Okay. and the second place that it went was, it turns out that the person doing that.

Went to a lot of school. So let’s be real. I went to Harvard, Stanford, and Yale. Okay. So that shit’s got to stop, right? So let’s, let’s stop this notion. Let’s get out of a world where open-heart surgery has to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. If we can build an iPhone for 300 bucks, there is no world in which open-heart surgery should be costing a hundred thousand dollars.

Open-heart surgery should come down into. tens of dollars to single digit dollars. There is no fundamental reason that it, that it should not. And I think, I think that can happen in this day.

[00:30:54] Joe:
And then Forwards vision of that Are you building those robots? Are you building those, whatever the supercharger equivalent is?

[00:31:04] Adrian:
Certainly hope so. There’s a lot of work to get there. I don’t think we’re going to be the only ones. I hope that we, I hope that we help catalyze that future. and I hope that we are certainly a big part of it. but yeah, I definitely have.

[00:31:17] Joe:
Awesome. Well, as we get towards the end of the conversation, thinking about then what this looks like as we go Forward, not only with, you know, what you hope to build in your vision of healthcare, is it. Dig, do you envision a world where then as a consumer, I just have a subscription like this for every different aspect of my life, that down the, the healthcare path or if it is, you know, right now, when you think about going to the dentist, it’s basically the same experience.

When I think about health and fitness, it’s the same experience where we be all choosing this path and kind of buying into this. Company and they’re vertically integrated model of healthcare or any other aspect of wellbeing or potentially life.

[00:32:02] Adrian:
So I really, I think it’s really, really important that consumers are the ones paying for healthcare, because I think it’s really, really important that, that the incentives are aligned, that you are the one you’re the customer at the end of the day, because if anybody else is the customer, they’re building for them, they’re not building for you.

And we need you to be at the heart of healthcare, nobody else, Health care needs to be really fucking inexpensive because at the end of the day, you know how everybody walks around and they say healthcare is a right. Kind of always annoys me when people say that, I’m like, sure, but you know who the hell is going to pay for this thing.

That’s already 20% of GDP. It’s like saying being a billionaire is a right. If you don’t have a solution for it, like, like how’s this. I actually want healthcare to be right. And the only way I know how to make it a right is for it to be so damn dirt cheap that literally everyone can have it the same way we can say information as a right, because of Google, right?

Like, because it’s been democratized. So I want healthcare to be democratized by making it a consumer product, but making it so dirt cheap that literally everyone can have it.

[00:33:07] Joe:
One more question before we wrap up. To this point. I don’t think, I think maybe like last funding round was $200 million in total. Maybe, you know, over a little over a couple

Hundred million This point you haven’t even raised that much money. There are definitely kind of consumer products and SAS, enterprise companies, all different types of companies that are not trying to reinvent healthcare that have raised much more.

How have you thought about financing? How will you continue to fund the company?

[00:33:32] Adrian:
We’ve raised a lot more than 200 million, but I like how you just told a founder who raised $200 million that you haven’t even raised that much. yeah. It makes you really feel good for your

[00:33:42] Joe:
Well, just a quick, a quick, you know, maybe caveat, like we, you know, even if you look at a company now that gets a lot of hype, especially around like our audience, like Peloton raised $900 million before they went public.

[00:33:54] Adrian:
We raised about half a billion so far. We are not a pure software player. We are building real physical infrastructure. These kinds of companies are expensive. They take a lot of money to build.

On the other hand, unlike the Pelotons of the world, unlike a bunch of these SaaS companies, these companies are also durable. Peloton might be popular today. Peloton might not be popular tomorrow. You’re seeing this with all sorts of companies, especially in the last few weeks, but you know what isn’t changing anytime soon? Health.

Health is not changing anytime soon. It turns out we all have a very hardcore need for health. When you work on problems that are at the core of humanity, it turns out that you take a very different trajectory.

They don’t have the Instagram growth curve. They don’t go from zero to a billion users in a year, but they also don’t have the Instagram death curve. Snapchat was hot, now Snapchat’s not.

These are real, real companies. These things last the test of time, because it turns out that they’re building fundamental services and fundamental needs that we all need.

They’re universal to humanity. They’re the things that matter. The reality is at some point I don’t want to be on my death bed talking about photo sharing. I want to be on my death bed talking about saving lives. We’re very, very, very far from achieving our mission. I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. We have a very far way to go, but if nothing else, I know we’re giving it the good old college try. Hopefully we make a dent in the problem.

[00:35:33] Joe:
Awesome. Well, I appreciate you taking a few minutes to share the vision and the process thus far with us.

For folks who are interested in following along and want to keep up—I know I will certainly be keeping tabs on everything that Forward is working on—where would you a direct them?

[00:35:48] Adrian:
You can check us out a goforward.com, or on any of the socials. We’re we’re pretty much on all of them.

[00:35:55] Joe:
Fantastic. Thanks so much, Adrian.

[00:35:57] Adrian:
Talk to you soon, Joe.

Get the latest health and fitness industry news

Keep up with industry news, trends, investment activity, and job openings — in one weekly newsletter.

    No thanks.