Where to Begin with Mental Health App Development?

Sergey Avdeychik

Sergey Avdeychik

Director of Healthcare Technologies at Andersen

Aug 5, 2022
Lesedauer: 8 Min.
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Today, people are more vulnerable to mental health issues than ever. Our lives have been affected by the pandemic and the recent war that has entailed economic uncertainty and posed an unprecedented challenge to society. All this encourages people to seek psychological help and turn to technology that supplements and enhances the work of therapists. In this piece, Andersen’s healthcare software development experts are sharing insights on mental health app development to consider when creating a solution.

Statistics and market overview

Studies on how the pandemic has affected the mental health of adults show that about four in ten US residents are experiencing different forms of mental health issues. At the same time, the global use of mobile apps is increasing exponentially, and advanced technology is becoming more affordable. This means the majority of healthcare workers consider mHealth solutions as effective tools for providing better patient care, while more and more people are becoming aware of the advantages that digital solutions can offer.

Currently, the global mHealth apps market amounts to $43.5 billion, growing by 11.8% annually. Via such apps, users monitor their vital signs, collect and transfer health data, get statistics and reports, seamlessly interact with healthcare providers, and more. All this improves quality of life, reduces expenses on healthcare, and streamlines the work of medical staff.

U.S. mHealth Apps Market

The most popular types of mental health apps

The majority of mental health apps belong to one of the following categories depending on the problem they solve.

Apps for anxiety and depression management

These solutions normally include features for assessing the current mental state of users, tracking their mood, and educating them on the ways to cope with related conditions. The apps can be integrated with tools for meditation and sleep trackers and can enable patients to talk to an AI-powered chatbot or a therapist.

Apps to deal with addictions

These solutions can supplement regular sessions with a specialist or help with the self-control of one’s addictive behavior. The apps include features for progress tracking and analytics. They can also have embedded gamification elements, e.g. the collection of coins or other bonuses.

Solutions for coping with food addiction also fall into this category. Their main features include calorie and weight trackers, meal calendars, and educational materials on healthy nutrition.

Apps for self-improvement

Such apps are meant for people who want to change their behavior patterns and thus improve the quality of their lives. They include functionalities for setting goals, scheduling exercises, and having coaching sessions, as well as integration with educational platforms.

How can you benefit from creating a mental health app?

Let’s consider who benefits from using mHealth solutions.

App users

Apps improve users’ well-being in the following ways:

  • Getting help becomes more affordable and available to a greater number of people;
  • Those who hesitate or are not sure whether they should see a therapist can start by using an app first;
  • Users can remain anonymous when getting insights on sensitive topics;
  • Apps provide convenient access to services round-the-clock and from any place.

Healthcare facilities

Dedicated software solutions enhance the performance of clinics in the following ways:

  • Mental health apps are a valuable supplement to live therapeutic sessions, as they allow for in-depth analytics of patients’ conditions;
  • Such solutions streamline and automate day-to-day operations: booking appointments, making reports, sending and storing test results, etc.
  • They collect statistics on different mental health conditions, allowing healthcare facilities to use them in research and thus improve their services.

Custom software development companies

As governments pay special attention to the healthcare industry, mental health app developers get the opportunity to:

  • Enhance their image by helping people cope with socially significant disorders;
  • Enlarge their expertise in delivering best-in-class healthcare software in accordance with the latest technologies and industry trends.

What features does an outstanding solution include?

If you are wondering how to develop a mental health app that will win an audience and bring you profit, consider embedding it with key useful functionalities. Users who are seeking to receive help for their mental conditions need the features described below:

Profile creation and signing up

In this step, users need to specify their personal and health information, fill out questionnaires, attach test results and doctors’ opinions, and choose a subscription plan when applicable. Since transferring and storing sensitive information is involved, multi-factor authentication must be ensured, including login with biometrics.

Condition monitoring

This feature can take the form of questionnaires, a diary for making notes, tools for collecting vital signs and tracking their dynamics, etc. Consider including a voice recognition feature, painting tools, and gamification elements.

###Chats and video calls Your solution should have advanced features for conducting sessions with coaches and therapists and communicating with them in real-time. Users need to be able to schedule and record sessions, attach files, and more.

Notifications

It is recommended to equip a solution with seamless push notifications that remind users about planned events and payments, encourage them to adhere to healthy habits, and motivate them to keep using the app.

Integration with external systems

The app should be integrated with electronic health records, TeleHealth solutions, payment systems, tools for vital sign monitoring, schedulers, social media profiles, geolocation, etc.

Forums and educational content

Give your users the possibility to share their experiences and receive support on forums and in group chats while staying anonymous. Consider adding educational articles, podcasts, and videos in the app and enabling AI-powered recommendations based on users’ profiles.

As for healthcare workers and coaches, they will love the following:

Creation of expert profiles

In their profiles, specialists want to be able to specify their expertise and qualifications, set a schedule, and establish rates and prices.

Tools for analytics and monitoring

An app should enable specialists to view patient data in real-time, as well as to collect, structure, store, and analyze it.

Integration with payment systems

Specialists using your solution should be able to seamlessly receive payments in different currencies to their eWallets or through banking apps.

How to create a mental health app with an emphasis on data security?

There is one more crucial factor that needs to be considered when creating healthcare software – data security. According to Statista, nearly half of female users and one in three male users don’t feel comfortable when sharing their self-collected digital information. This is especially true when it comes to sensitive information about users’ health conditions. Therefore, it must be protected accordingly.

Comfort in sharing self-collected digital information among U.S. consumers

The most popular regulations related to data security are the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in the USA and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU, implemented in the UK as the Data Protection Act.

When choosing a software development company, check whether it delivers solutions that are fully compliant with those and other laws that are in force in the territory where you plan to launch and promote your app. This way, you will avoid penalties and ensure adequate protection for user data.

Another concern might arise due to Big Data collection and cloud storage. If your app uses integrations with users’ social media, geolocation, or other systems to collect data and offer ads and recommendations, the users must be notified about it and have the possibility to decline cookies. Needless to say, personal and health data used by an app must be securely encrypted.

Creating a mental health app: where to start

When planning to build an impressive app and choosing a development company, it is recommended to take the following steps first in order to secure the success of your solution.

Research the market

Statistically, about 14% of adults in the US suffer from one mental disorder, while nearly 6% of people have two and more issues of this kind. At the same time, 75% of cases occur in people under the age of 24.

If you want to attract users to your product, you should research the market to know these and other relevant statistics. Additionally, take a closer look at your competitors’ current solutions of this kind. Using all this knowledge, you will be able to determine who your target audience is, what problems they face, and how your app will help in solving these problems.

Choose a trustable vendor

When looking for an outsourcing company, find out what their experience in healthcare software development is and whether they consult with in-house subject-matter experts during their work, grounding their solutions with scientifically-based insights and best industry practices.

Yet another crucial issue to consider is your app’s design. The solution will function differently depending on who its users are, and must be designed accordingly. At Andersen, we adhere to efficient UI/UX design practices, such as user-centered design, usability heuristics, and more to create intuitive and harmonious interfaces.

Choose a monetization strategy

You are surely wondering how to make a mental health app that will be profitable. Among the most popular ways to monetize an app, there are paid downloads, in-app purchases, subscriptions, and advertising. You can consult with your vendor’s marketing specialists to choose the strategy that suits you best.

Wrapping up

Impressive healthcare software solutions developed by Andersen improve the quality of life of people all over the world and allow healthcare providers to benefit from seamless and high-performing software. During our 15 years of operation, we have implemented dozens of projects requiring the use of modern tech stacks and extensive industry expertise. Contact us if you need a hand with an outstanding custom solution for the digital transformation of your business.

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Sergey Avdeychik, Director of Healthcare Technologies at Andersen
Sergey Avdeychik

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