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Psychological health was already a hot topic in the past several years, but with COVID-19, its importance has only grown. Quarantines and self-isolation have significantly altered the approach to providing mental health services.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness’s report, 45% of US adults with mental illnesses indicated that the pandemic had a negative impact on their well-being. Only 34% of them could receive the necessary treatment via telehealth.
That is why it is crucial to increase the availability of timely and effective care, especially through virtual mental health services. Ergo, the idea to create a psychological therapy app seems fairly reasonable today.
The modern mobile app market is already teeming with such products, with about 20,000 applications available. Yet, not all of these apps are successful. Can you single out any thriving ones? Maybe Headspace or Calm? While these apps promote mindfulness and meditation, there aren’t many high-quality online counseling services.
If you think about creating a successful mental health application, you are in the right place. Our team has built several healthcare apps, including MedRealtime and HIPAA Telmed, which we will discuss later. We are also ready to take on psychological therapy app development for you.
Check out our other guides for developing medical solutions: a pharmaceutical app and a virtual nurse app. In this article we will discuss the main functions of a mental health-oriented therapy app, as well as the benefits and challenges of its building.
Key Benefits of Therapist App Development
Building a telemedicine therapy app aims to increase the availability of mental health services for people with psychological issues. But what are the benefits for developers of such applications? Let’s talk about the main ones.
Room for Growth
There are numerous mental health applications on the market. According to the Digital Mental Health Revolution report, more than 100 startups of this sort emerge each year. But don’t be afraid of such competition in this market.
Many mental health products do not correspond to users’ requirements or are incapable of meeting them at all. As a result, you still have a fantastic opportunity to develop an application that matches current trends and patient needs.
There has been a considerable increase in the need for psychological therapy due to the pandemic. One reason is COVID-19’s direct impact on mental health; another one is the consequences of social chaos and isolation.
If traditional psychotherapy is in high demand during the pandemic, what role can telemedicine play?
According to a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration survey, about 38% of the respondents reported delays or cancellations in their appointments. What’s more, almost 60% of the patients have shifted from personal visits to a doctor to remote psychological therapy.
In such circumstances, remote therapy apps are a must. Even long after the pandemic, the global mental health software market will show a CAGR of 11% during a forecast period from 2016 to 2027.
Do Good to Those in Need
People requiring mental support are often unable to seek professional help. There are different reasons for this, which do not always depend on the financial capacity of patients. According to the USAFacts report, 37% of the US population live in “mental health professional shortage” areas. That means a lot of people are literally unable to locate a doctor.
If you build an app for therapy sessions, you will be able to attract specialists worldwide. That will allow people with mental disorders to get help from a certified psychologist without even leaving their homes.
Psychological Therapy App Features to Consider
The psychological therapy app should put a strong emphasis on its users. It has to provide doctors and patients with all the functionality necessary for the convenient organization of virtual counseling sessions.
Here are the features to keep in mind if you want to create a psychological therapy app:
A user profile is quite a simple feature in most mobile applications. However, in teletherapy app development, its functionality is much more significant.
You want your app to be personalized and indeed beneficial to people. That’s why users should be able to provide personal information about themselves aside from their email and phone number. It should also include data on the patient’s age, gender, medical condition, etc.
Notifications will be a vital component of your software since they allow your app to remind users of planned activities such as walking, sleeping, eating, or seeing a therapist.
Don’t forget to allow your users to choose and schedule their reminders. The excessive number of notifications can be annoying, and we want to avoid this in an app that focuses on mental health.
Dashboards will be handy for both doctors and patients. It’s an efficient tool for mental health practitioners to manage patient data — for example, store survey results and patient progress information.
As for the patients, dashboards mean an opportunity of tracking their achievements and the course of treatment.
The patient’s dashboard would be impossible to implement without the self-monitoring function. This feature allows users to fill in the information on their mental state on a regular basis.
With a self-monitoring function, patients should be able to specify their symptoms, moods, and emotions. Users should also have the opportunity to share their thoughts within your app.
The messaging function is crucial if you want to make a remote therapy app that will be truly convenient for your users. With this option, patients will be able to quickly open a chat with their doctor in case of an urgent matter.
Video & Audio Calls
This feature is quite obvious: it is critical to ensure a flawless teletherapy experience. Here you need to take care of uninterrupted audio and video communication for your users.
Thanks to this feature, patients will be able to share the results of their medical tests with their doctors. Meanwhile, the therapist will be able to send valuable supporting resources. You can’t forget about this option in a virtual mental health service.
Therapist App Design Best Practices
We’ve covered the essential features for a psychological therapy application. However, you must guarantee that users have a smooth, engaging experience with your product in addition to these functions. So, let’s talk about the best design practices that will make your app stand out.
Start your custom therapy app development, including design, with the user in mind. Everything in your software, from the logo to the corporate colors, should be tailored to your target audience’s needs.
Make sure that your product easily adapts to different devices and screen sizes and that the user interface is easy to navigate.
Since the therapy app is all about doctor-patient interaction, you must provide sophisticated functionality to mental health professionals. There should be a component that allows doctors to examine patient data and follow their progress. The dashboards feature may come in handy here.
If you plan to create a mental therapy app, support several platforms to reach a larger audience. That is, you may create an iOS and Android application or a cross-platform solution. Don’t overlook devices like a tablet or even a smartwatch.
Use AI with Carefulness
AI is a promising technology, but it yet has little to promise when it comes to mental health. It’s especially true with artificial intelligence-generated mental advice. Since every person is unique, patients require an individualized approach from a professional, which AI cannot provide.
Read also: Telemedicine App Development Guide.
On-demand Therapy App Tech Stack
If you have decided to develop an app for therapy sessions, it is significant to understand what is under the hood of such products. We will share some technologies we have already tested while developing telemedicine applications. Here’s what you need:
The frontend is responsible for client-side development, namely the user interface creation.
Technologies: Angular, React.js.
The development of mobile mental health applications requires distinctive technologies. Let’s have a look at some of them.
Technologies: React Native or Flutter for cross-platform apps, Swift for iOS, Java, and Kotlin for Android.
The backend is responsible for development on the server side of your therapy app. Your application will show high efficiency, speed, and ease of use owing to high-quality backend technologies implementation.
Technologies: .NET, Node.js.
The database is a critical component of psychological therapy apps, as it will store all patient-related information.
Technologies: MongoDB, MySQL, PostgreSQL.
Here we’ll need technologies that help provide a perfect user experience and create a user-friendly interface.
Technologies: Figma, Android UI, SwiftUI.
Video & Audio Calls
As it’s a fundamental feature for virtual mental care services, you need to choose the perfect technology for implementing video and audio calls in your application.
3rd Party Integrations
To ensure the proper work of your application, you need to take care of APIs through which you can implement a variety of services. Here are some of them, along with technologies needed for their integration:
- Notifications: Firebase Cloud Messaging, Pusher.
- Messaging: S3 Bucket.
- Geolocation: Google Maps, Core Location API.
We also encourage you to read this article to understand better how to develop a mental health app.
Psychological Therapy App Development Challenges
Anyone interested in creating a mental health app, even a therapy app development company, needs to understand what challenges they’ll potentially face. Here are some of them:
Compliance with Regulations
Your application must comply with data protection regulations. Some countries have distinct legal requirements regarding personal data security.
The main regulators are:
- GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) in the EU.
- HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) in the US.
- DPA (Data Protection Act) in the UK.
- PIPEDA (Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act) in Canada.
The spread of evidence-based medicine has also influenced the mental health sector. There are many psychological therapy applications available, but not all of them provide scientifically-proven treatment approaches. You should back up your app with scientific knowledge and clinical research.
You want to make sure that your application is the one that users want to return to again and again. Thus, you can implement gamification features in your application, such as in-app scores or a leaderboard. But be careful here: some users with mental disorders may only feel more stress because of such features.
How Much Does It Cost to Build a Therapy App?
The psychological therapy app development cost will vary from application to application. What’s more, the final cost may differ from the estimated one. You can set a certain budget beforehand, but then you’ll have additional expenses for implementing new features.
Yet, in general, the final cost of your product is affected by several factors:
- The number and complexity of features
- Technological stack
- Developer salaries in your area
Let’s try to estimate how much custom therapy app development will cost you based on the major phases of building such a product.
Estimation, Research & UI/UX design
It is the initial stage of developing your application. Here, the team conducts market research and creates a plan to enter it, selects technologies for your app, and builds a prototype.
A prototype is a draft version of your future application, a model of the system you will create. You can later use it to build an MVP, a fully functional product with basic features. The employees required at this stage are a designer, an architect, and a business analyst.
Approximate cost: $11 200
Once you have approved the project, you can proceed directly to its development. MVP is the basic version of your therapy app, which will include only the fundamental features without which your application is impossible to imagine. Specialists such as project managers, developers, QA engineers, and designers work on minimum viable product development.
Approximate cost: $25 600
Testing & Launch
The development stage happens along with continuous testing run by QA engineers – we do many different tests to check if everything works correctly in your application. Our team corrects errors if they occur. How much time IT specialists need to complete your app will depend on its complexity.
Hence, now you should get a clear understanding of psychological therapy app development. Then we agree with you on the final version of your solution, and our team launches your project.
Approximate cost: $9 600
Creating technical documentation
The company's IT specialists create a document that contains all the necessary information about your application.
Approximate cost: $1 600
So, we figured out the approximate prices and time for each stage of development. And now, for convenience, we will present all this below in one table.
Estimation, Research & UI/UX design
Creating technical documentation
1 200 hours (5 month)
Our Experience with Telemedicine App Development
Our team has significant experience developing healthcare solutions, particularly in the telemedicine field. We invite you to become familiar with our two cases to demonstrate our knowledge.
HIPAA Telmed — a telemedicine startup
We created a web application that allows high-quality video conferencing for medical consultations. This product aims to lower healthcare expenses while also offering a convenient interaction between doctors and patients.
Challenges we encountered:
- At the time of development, there was insufficient WebRTC documentation.
- Complex tech structure of the project.
- Ensuring the security of user data.
What we did:
- Customized WebRTC audio and video conferencing technology to suit our client’s needs.
- Increased the development team to 12 people to handle a complex project.
- Deployed a complex cloud structure and implemented TSL, TDL, and login-based authorization to increase security following the HIPAA regulation.
As a result, our team has developed a high-quality solution that has successfully entered the market. Our users rated the effectiveness and usability of HIPAA Telmed, in particular.
MedRealtime — telemedicine app with video consultations, appointments scheduling, and reminders
It is another telemedicine software created for doctors and patients. It consists of web and mobile platforms for video communication and appointment booking.
Challenges we encountered:
- A complex process of appointment booking and payment.
- Difficulties with optimizing the doctors’ workload.
- Patients’ prejudice towards remote medical services.
What we did:
- Introduced HD video conferencing platform.
- Added a messaging tool.
- Introduced online and offline booking tool that synchronizes with the doctor’s calendar in real-time.
As a result, we have developed a platform convenient for both physicians and patients. Now doctors can easily optimize their working processes, and patients, in turn, have the opportunity to choose the specialist they need and make appointments at any convenient time.
Final Thoughts on Teletherapy App Development
Therapist app development is a promising niche today. One of the reasons for this is the high demand for quality mental health solutions. Besides, there is a lot of room for improvement, even despite numerous such applications on the market.
A decent teletherapy app will be engaging for users while also reliably protecting their data, following all regulations. Such applications must also be user-centric and provide the best user experience possible.
If you are interested in custom therapy app development, feel free to contact the Softermii team. We are eager to start this new journey with you!
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