May 30, 2023

Trusted Relationships Matter in Digital Health


Well integrates live, longitudinal human relationships into its digital health platform and across individualized improvement programs.

Well believes that a digital health solution should allow members to engage in their health with live human advisors, not be limited to canned suggestions from a quick online search. In short, we offer the trusted relationships that the health experience demands.

After all, dealing with a health challenge elicits strong feelings, and health care is an inherently “high-emotion service.” Getting your dishwasher repaired or ordering takeout still comes with a desire for a good service experience, but expectations for health care operate at a whole other level. People seeking care want a true partner, as findings from a survey of Well members show:

  • An ideal health partner should be trustworthy, approachable, empathetic, and intelligent.
  • Positive health experiences involve kindness and trust.
  • Health care demands human touch and a sense of control.

Self-service portals, even the most advanced technology solutions, simply cannot replace the emotional connection and reassurance from a real human. Shared empathy, contextual encouragement, even a kind word can deepen the exchange and help a member engage with health decisions they may normally shrink from or avoid. The human relationship is central; “tech-only” approaches fall woefully short.

“From the beginning, we knew we couldn’t be successful without a human component of our offering. It is one part application that you can download on your phone and one part on-demand Well Guides who are ready to engage. Having one without the other would not get us to the type of relationship we need to have with our members to be successful.”

—Will Aiken, Chief Operating Officer

How We Built Humanity Into Digital Health

Digital solutions are excellent for many tasks, especially for scaling efficiently. But as with any new class of solution, it often takes time to understand what really matters, to construct the right product. We knew that bolt-on services and check-the-box features are rarely effective, and that a fully integrated human component would be key. So, we did our homework to figure out how to make that happen, by talking to hundreds of people and cataloging what they wanted in a digital health partner. We used their voices, their words, to create the service we now call Well. Several of their expectations stood out:

Build the human component into the core offering. People want to connect with a live person to ask questions about the health system or get support on a health goal. No frustrating chatbots or “press 9 to speak to a representative.” Health is personal and vulnerable, so we had to create a real relationship. 

Tailor offerings to each person’s life and context. People want health support from someone who feels human and who also treats them as human. “Listen to me and take the time to understand me.” “Don’t force-feed me something that doesn’t apply to my health.” “Make me feel like you know me.” These are the expectations of an authentic relationship, and we fulfill them.

Truly integrate self-directed and human-support components. Digital health solutions’ chat and live-call features are typically just for customer service. At Well, we integrate those features with a clinically robust health program, whereby a member can interact with digital content at their own pace, and then reach out to a real person with a question when they need to do that. Our Well Guides can pick up with whatever a member is working on. Our DIY pathways allow members to engage on their own at any time — and also build on that engagement with live staff, at the member’s discretion. The combination is critical. Sometimes you want to speak to someone; sometimes you want to explore on your own. We co-designed the two to be complementary. 

Make features accessible to everyone. Our Well Guide team is available to all of our members, not just those with complex needs. The team helps with everything from navigating the maze of the health care system, to helping set achievable health goals, to suggesting available benefits that a member may not know about. We look at the whole picture and give every member comprehensive service.

Because we consistently meet these expectations, our members tell us that our humanity is our finest trait. Our Well Guides are what make members say, “I’ve tried many of the others, but you’re the only human health app.” 


How We Live Our Mission

To embody Well’s mission of being “human” in health, we follow three core principles:

Celebrate each individual. We believe that even with billions of people in the world, each individual’s health is specific to that person — and should be treated that way. No cookie-cutter advice and unhelpful finger-wagging. We are here for you. All of you. We configure to fit your needs, while celebrating your wins and successes for what they are.

We’re people, too. We never treat our members like a number being processed through a system. We treat you like a human being, because we are as vulnerable and in need of support as our members are. Indeed, the core of our logo — our “Well” mark — perfectly illustrates the partnership we form with each and every member. From live-person Well Guides to thoughtful quality-engagement pathways, we are people serving other people.


We are an expert and a friend. We aren’t your doctor, so we can’t diagnose your appendicitis or write you a prescription. But we’re health experts who can share information that might help you think about whether your short, high-intensity workouts are just as powerful as running five miles a day — and we convey that information to you as a trusted confidant would. Being a good conversationalist and a good listener enhances mutual understanding and trust. That principle is wholly baked into our mission.

At Well, we’ve created a digital product that is fully integrated with a human service. We believe that one depends on the other. Our Well Guide team can build relationships in a way that a digital-only offering simply cannot. We consider trust and empathy to be among our strongest traits. We call ourselves the ‘human’ health platform because we believe that humanity — yours and ours — are how we can thrive and be well together.