by Abbey Slattery — May 18, 2020 | WRAL Techwire
Imagine: instead of the traditional healthcare model — scheduling appointments, spending hours in waiting rooms and receiving typically standardized support — picture a user experience like that of Netflix or Uber — personalized to your needs, on-demand calling and resources, and an all-encompassing focus on your individual health.
Seamless, stress-free and wholly customized.
At healthcare technology company Well, co-founder, president and COODavid Werry sees this concierge-style health service as the remedy to a flawed traditional system.
“Healthcare is so broken and so misaligned, mostly regarding the individual,” Werry said. “We really feel that almost everybody in this country needs a trusted guide in the process.”
Werry and his colleagues built Well from the ground up just one year ago — establishing bases in both Chapel Hill and Newton, Mass. — to act as this much-needed guide for consumers as they navigate the often-complicated healthcare landscape.
Well is a consumer engagement platform that delivers trusted, individualized health advancement information to users. The AI-driven, health-tech company’s mission is to use their sophisticated data-analytics engine to individualize each experience and encourage personalization.
Although the company has bases in two cities, it recently decided to expand its operations in Chapel Hill, pledging to bring growth to their corner of Franklin Street and add 400 new jobs to the community. For Werry, the choice between Chapel Hill and Newton was simple: not only is the company able to draw from a wide pool of talented candidates in the area, but he’s also a former Chapel Hill resident himself.
“My wife and I met here, went to school here, and moved back here six or seven years ago. We’re really embedded in the community, and love the resources and synergy with the university,” Werry explained. “Also, there’s a longstanding tradition of healthcare in the RTP area. I’ve watched it grow and expand into more health-tech innovation. For us, a big part of wanting to be here has been the people and talent — access to high-quality individuals that want to be a part of this healthcare mission.”
By promising to bring hundreds of new jobs to their location on Franklin Street, Well will likely be altering the landscape of downtown Chapel Hill in the process, transforming the area into a mini-campus of sorts. Throughout their mission to bring significant growth to downtown, Werry and his colleagues have felt widespread support and enthusiasm — on both a local and state-wide level. In fact, N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper made the announcement regarding Well’s decision to establish its Chapel Hill base.
“We’ve seen nothing but praise and energy for what we’re doing, and a willingness and openness to make sure that we’re successful, and this is done jointly with the community,” Werry explained. “There’s been a lot of enthusiasm for what’s possible and getting a vibrant business community started, specifically in downtown.”
While Well’s expansion in Chapel Hill is still in the intermediate stages, thanks to the rich collaborative nature of Well and Chapel Hill’s communications, the two entities have established a partnership and collaborated on a vision of what the future could look like moving forward. In Werry’s case, there’s high potential for innovation and growth.
“If you go and look at Silicon Valley or if you spend time on Facebook’s campus or Google’s campus, you have these multi-building, lower-profile campuses inter-mixed with retail and restaurants,” Werry said. “That’s a fun environment to be in, and there’s no reason that we couldn’t emulate that here as we think about what’s possible moving forward.”
As Well continues its journey in Chapel Hill, residents can expect some major changes to the downtown landscape — changes that are expected to further accelerate the growth and innovation that is already finding a home in the city. In the end, Werry’s goal isn’t just to put Chapel Hill on the map for other large companies looking to move, but also to expand and grow their membership through a direct-to-consumer offering.
“Our goal is to engage 100 percent of our member population and do it on their terms, with whatever is important to that individual,” Werry explained. “Somebody may care about the rewards. Somebody may care about having a health guide 24/7. Someone else may care about the health journey, et cetera. That adaptability piece of it and having built the platform before in different environments has been a really important part of the company.”
“We’re very passionate about what we’re doing,” he finished. “We have an incredible team of individuals and they could be doing all kinds of things, but they’ve come really because of the mission — to be that trusted guide for our members and be disruptive in healthcare. This is the environment that we want to have as we grow.”