In recent years there has been an increase in alternative medical care providers, outside of typical insurance and primary physician care. Some of these concierge services cater to a high end client, while other function as more of an urgent care provider that enables better access. Having personally been exposed to a few of these I have seen the value in having additional access to medical care, through both office visits as well as telemedicine and apps. The two primary ones that I have tried are Forward Medical (GoForward.com) and One Medical.
With more than two years of Forward membership and over nine months with access to One Medical, here is a personal take on how these two services match up to one another. If you want to know more click here to see our Forward Medical review.
Primary Care at One Medical and Forward Health
Both Forward and One Medical can serve as the primary care service for health needs. While One Medical more closely resembles a traditional private practice or Doctor group, Forward competes more with concierge medical providers.
The real separation of the two services stems from anything beyond a standard check up. Our assessment is that if you are looking for just a simple primary care provider either option is fine, but it is worth considering if you are looking for specific guidance for a health issue or the most likely escalations that would need to be addressed, before settling on one or the other.
XRay & Urgent Care at Forward vs. One Medical
Forward is not an urgent care facilitator. Although they do provide an on demand telemedicine option and the ability to get a Doctor to weigh in on an issue quickly and remotely, for issues that need physical connections quickly their facilities fall short.
One Medical on the other hand is an Urgent Care alternative and offers XRay and imaging at many locations. If you have one in your area they sometimes will be the best option over standard urgent care or ER trips. This is especially true if you have an issue that requires an urgent need but does not meet the level of emergency that would get first service in a traditional ER.
For springs, breaks, or other potential issue that will need simple imaging done the One Medical offices are a solid alternative to traditional ERs.
Telemedicine and Apps of One Medical vs. Forward
The best service for both One Medical and Forward are the ability to get access to doctors and medical providers quickly. Each of these are designed with telemedicine in mind, and offers an app based experience.
App experiences are ideal as they handle most of the clunky electronic records keeping and access issues. Traditional doctors offices and private practices are too small to be able to specialize in this, and even some smaller hospital systems lack the ability to manage an IT system required to keep up with telemedicine needs of new generations.
One Medical and Forward on the other hand are built for digital natives. If you are comfortable chatting with a doctor via text, or on a video call, then the telemedicine options of either will be a great benefit.
Both apps offer the ability to connect directly with a physician. Neither is built to provide access and information outside of that approved by the doctor, so for simple investigation WebMD and others are still better options. It is also possible to manage the feedback from a visit in the app. It is nice to be able to reference the notes from a visit, without having to rely on your ability to get access to an antiquated physical file kept on a rolling rack at your doctor’s office!
Cost Comparison of Forward and One Medical
It is worth highlighting that the business model of Forward and One Medical are entirely different. Forward is a concierge medicine that is outside of traditional insurance. Their membership provides access to all the services that they have for $149/month, but the services are limited. Issues that require referrals to specialist will not be done through Forward membership.
One Medical on the other hand works through traditional insurance. This allows them to build more robust offerings including those that require substantial investment (ie. imaging services) since they can bill for them through traditional billing codes. The membership is $199 PER YEAR, so a fraction of what Forward costs, but that is just for the baseline access.
Doctor Access and Office Availability
When determining which service is right for you the most relevant concern is likely to be how accessible physical offices are. Although telemedicine can address many issues, health care still requires in person visits for certain services.
One Medical is available in more than a dozen major metropolitan areas with up to 38 locations in some (San Francisco). Check their site for all One Medical Locations.
Is Concierge Medicine Worth the Money?
First is is worth highlighting that One Medical is not really concierge medicine, while Forward more typically is. In either case though, the question of if it’s worth it depends on what you plan to utilize from the services.
In terms of gaining access to reliable medical providers to have near instant feedback on any issues that you have, yes having concierge or on-demand subscription services is highly worth it. Both for the peace of mind for people like new parents, and for the practical need of not having to schedule a visit for something that can most likely be identified by you.
Where concierge medicine really helps out is when it eliminates the headache of dealing with insurance providers. The incremental cost to pay for medical subscription is vastly out weighed by the time and headache of dealing with traditional insurance providers.
Forward vs. One Medical Competitors
Both Forward and One Medical are working in a new era of health care. There are dozens of similar companies trying to compete in this space. In the end each is a marketplace, connecting patients to healthcare providers, which means that there will continue to be other offerings that are more relevant depending on the region, specialty, and depth of the provider side that make up the market place.
A handful of Forward and One Medical competitors include:
- LiveHealth Online a partner with Anthem
- ZappyHealth for At-Home Visit
- Heal In Home Primary Care
- EverlyWell at home testing – Still needs primary care to get diagnosis and treatment
- LetsGetChecked at home testing – Still needs primary care to get diagnosis and treatment
- Cue Health – at home testing with limited in-app Physician response. See our Cue Review.