Report: Google principles roadmap for mental health app building

Evidence-based mobile mental health technologies could boost patient self-care and reduce the increasing demand for one-on-one psychological intervention, but such mHealth tools would do well to adhere to specific development guidelines, according to a new research study.

The report, "How Google's 'Ten Things We Know To Be True' Could Guide The Development Of Mental Health Mobile Apps," published at Health Affairs, is focused on spurring new mobile solutions to improve mental healthcare delivery efficiency and help ease the workforce shortage in the psychological field.

"Creating efficiencies in mental health labor is particularly challenging because it relies more on communication between people and less on the equipment and tools used for many other health services," according to the report.

The research cites mobile app that encourage patients to adhere to treatment and provide support and follow up through text messaging following discharge. It provides specific examples that mesh with Google's 10 principles, such as ensuring  apps are focused on making the user experience a top priority, and another principle that speaks to "doing one thing really, really well."

For the latter, the report cites a trial of 54 patients in the United Kingdom treated for depression and alcohol use disorders. Once discharged the patients were randomly assigned to receive either supportive text messages two times a day or a thank you text every two weeks. At the end of the three-month text intervention, the group receiving supportive messages had significantly lower depressions scores and relapsed for dew days compared to the "thank you" message group.

The report is just the latest in a serious of research recommendations regarding mobile app development in healthcare. Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bayview Internal Medicine Residency Program and the Orlando Health Internal Medicine Residency Program advise using a 10-step framework for developing mHealth apps that allows doctors to be involved in software conception, development and outlines four specific advice points for future physician application developers.

As FierceMobileHealthcare recently reported, three attorneys suggest mobile healthcare start-up developers: establish a business plan, devise a comprehensive revenue and reimbursement plan and determine product and technology insurance requirements.

The Google research report cites the principle of "fast is better than slow," noting most users expect quick results from text, web services and apps and so mobile psychological tools must meet those expectations.

To learn more:
- read the abstract

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