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Building a mental health app to capture and serve a new market

Company Type
Digital Health
Design and build a mobile app to capture and serve a new market
React Native, Javascript, Flow, Prototyping, design sprint, user interviews
Mobile app launched on time, Large client won, Upskilled engineering team

Since 2011, Ieso Digital Health has provided an online space for one-to-one cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for people with common mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. Ieso removes the access barriers of therapy by giving it to patients in the comfort of their homes, at work, or even on public transport. The therapy is delivered through their mobile devices at times that suit them in a secure environment where they communicate through text-based conversation.

Ieso reached out to thoughtbot after receiving a round of funding in 2017. The UK-based company wanted help building a mobile app in order to capture and serve a new and growing US market that uses mobile phones to access therapy.

“ It’s genuinely a pleasure to work with thoughtbot. They came in and didn’t say 'let’s fix mental health', they came and said 'let’s make the best product we can'. They seem to have the same level of focus as we do as a company in doing the right thing. They took even our most muddled requirements and helped us to make something beautiful out of them. ”

Melody King, Project Owner, Ieso Digital Health Melody King, Project Owner, Ieso Digital Health


Ieso needed to prove their ability to create a world-class app to secure a deal with their first potential client in the US, a large insurance company.

Roughly 60% of users in the US were accessing therapy via Ieso’s website using their phones. To create a more convenient and helpful experience for both the patient and the therapist, Ieso needed to build a mobile app. It would have to duplicate the clinical environment already found on their website within six months. The relationship with their client and overall user adoption were both on the line, so the stakes were high.  Although they needed to build an app quickly, they did not yet have a dedicated in-house team of mobile developers.

The Ieso team were also ready to optimize their onboarding process to make their new app simpler and friendlier for their users. They wanted a design that would enable more users to schedule their first appointment without being required to talk to a support team or complete a prerequisite questionnaire. Ieso had seen these steps resulted in too many users abandoning the process on the web platform.

To make all this happen, Ieso needed a partner with expertise in mobile development who could guide the development of an API on the back-end. Ideally, this partner would be ready to make progress alongside other simultaneous development projects in the web app.

thoughtbot had the necessary experience in React Native needed to carry out the project. Ieso is based in the United Kingdom and was building for the United States market, and thoughtbot’s cross-Atlantic presence in the UK as well as the US brought additional value to the project.

“The caliber of talent that thoughtbot brought to bear in those initial engagements demonstrated their value very quickly and was really fantastic. It represented what capabilities they had as a long term partner.”

Craig Gravina, CTO, IESO Digital Health


Ieso and thoughtbot began with a product design sprint, building a prototype that could be used to test and validate the new onboarding flow. Designers ran user interviews to identify any issues and address those concerns before development on the mobile app began.

thoughtbot continued to work with Ieso to build out the features that were identified through design sprints using React Native as a primary development framework. thoughtbot provided the mobile infrastructure that integrated the new patient onboarding flow with their existing back-end infrastructure.

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The first version of the mobile app was created and delivered on time to customers in the US market, allowing Ieso to secure a deal with their first large industry client.

The success of the first design sprint also inspired Ieso to conduct multiple design sprints, each addressing different needs of their users.

Ieso’s current goal is to continue augmenting clinical insights for therapists to increase recovery rates for their patients. The mobile environment and passive data collection will lead to a better understanding of how Ieso can deliver real-time behaviour change to patients in their everyday life outside of therapy.

“With any consulting company, there is usually some apprehension and disconnect between the teams, especially from the client’s perspective: whether the team is delivering, is there enough interaction, are we able to impart enough knowledge to them, etc. Over the course of the last year we have seen success with the thoughtbot team because of our collaboration around innovation, the cultural and technical alignment, mutual respect, and the deliverables.”

Craig Gravina, CTO, IESO Digital Health

The Ieso team has been incredible to work with. thoughtbot is thrilled to continue the journey with them, building visionary digital products that improve patient outcomes.

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