#118 Forward: Bringing Healthcare as a Product to a Billion People | Adrian Aoun, CEO and Founder

In Episode #118, we explore healthcare as a product rather than a service. We’re joined by Adrian Aoun, Forward’s CEO and Founder, and we cover why healthcare should be a product, not a service, being problem-oriented as a founder, and why the health insurance industry is destined to fall.
Last updated
November 7, 2022
Min Read
Forward offers the best technology to patients, from collaborative smart screens to biometric monitoring and genetic testing.
More ways to listen to Outliers

About Forward

Website | Twitter

“Solutions don't really matter. Problems matter.” – Adrian Aoun

Adrian Aoun is founder and CEO of Forward, which is building an insurance-free healthcare system focused on preventative healthcare from the ground up. Forward was founded in 2017 to invert the typical model of healthcare, which follows the service model where one patient sees a single doctor whenever they need care. Forward is building healthcare focused on health and preventative care that's 1) productized so you can use it anytime, anywhere, 2) scalable so it's affordable to everyone, and 3) always on with help available through the Forward app and a network of offices around the US. This might sound like, well, how healthcare should have been all along, which is the goal.

To be clear, Forward is tackling a massive problem in the United States. In 2021, healthcare spending accounted for a full 19.7% of GDP. That's a full one-fifth. That number is compounding at a rate of 6% to 7% year-over-year, which begs the question, how is that even possible? And what happens when healthcare as a percentage rises to 30% or even 40% of GDP, which is a likely scenario?

Before founding Forward, Adrian worked as an advisor to the White House on the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, as well as a director of special projects for the CEO of Google and the founder of Sidewalk Labs.

This episode is a special one. In it we cover why Adrian is fanatical about being problem-focused rather than solution-focused, what he learned leading special projects for Sergey Brin at Google, and why Forward is focused on productizing healthcare to bring down the cost of treatments, make healthcare available 24/7, help customers manage all aspects of their health, and increase the pace of innovation and iteration.

Adrian shares his perspective on what happens as the percentage of GDP dedicated to healthcare reaches 30% and even 40%, and he talks through how he uses extreme perspectives to pick apart complex issues and come to ground truths.

For more, explore the transcript of this episode.


This episode is our definitive guide to healthcare as a product rather than a service. In it we cover:

  • 00:00:00 – Introduction
  • 00:02:37 – From Google to Forward
  • 00:09:01 – Why founders should be problem-oriented
  • 00:12:31 – Advising the President on the future of technology
  • 00:17:22 – The root problem of the healthcare industry
  • 00:25:24 – Why healthcare should be a product, not a service
  • 00:30:01 – The imminent fall of health insurance
  • 00:35:06 – Does the healthcare system really matter?
  • 00:45:47 – Why medical specialties don’t make sense
  • 00:55:02 – How Forward is a mission that happens to have a company attached to it

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Castbox, Pocket Casts, Player FM, Podcast Addict, iHeartRadio, or on your favorite podcast platform. You can watch the interview on YouTube here.

Our Favorite Quotes

Here are a few ideas we'll be thinking about weeks and months from now:

  • “We have this concept at Forward, which is that we love to beat up ideas. Some people get really uncomfortable with that. They're like, "What do you mean you're beating up my idea." Sometimes people come in, we have a meeting type called the jam where we work through problems, and we attack ideas. We attack them. People are like, "Don't attack my idea. You're attacking me." I'm like, ‘No, I'm not attacking you. I'm attacking the idea.’”
  • “You are not your idea. I promise you, you're not.”
  • “It turns out problems tend not to change and solutions change all the time. We know this.”
  • “You intuitively know that technology scales in a way that humans don't. You intuitively know that hardware and software scales in a way that doctors don't. We only have one insight at Forward that we believe that nobody else believes. We believe healthcare should be a product, not a service. We believe that roughly everything in healthcare should just be a hardware and software problem, not a human problem.”
  • “We've created a healthcare system that's only focused on short-term health. The last five times you went to the doctor, how much do you want to bet it was for flu, rashes, stomach aches? Well, okay, guys, but I'm going to die someday. Can we talk about that?”
  • “We want to create a platform whereby the entire world of healthcare starts working together and the rate of innovation starts going through the roof, because until we get there, we're never going to get healthcare to go exponential the same way that transportation's got exponential.”
  • “We are not a company that happens to have a mission attached. We're a mission that happens to have a company attached.”

5 Ways to Dive Deeper

Selected Links

We covered a lot of ground in this interview. Here are links to the stories, articles, and ideas discussed:

Enjoy reading this? Share it.
Be the first to receive new articles and episodes as soon as they’re released.
Popular Articles
Be the first to receive new episodes when they’re released. And get our favorite quotes, tools, and ideas from the latest episode.
You're in! Thanks for subscribing.
Hmm, something went wrong. Can you try again?
By subscribing, you agree to our privacy policy.