Get the Mental Health Care You Deserve – Thanks to Mindwell and INVENTI
INVENTI's collaboration with the startup Mindwell on the development of an eHealth app helps with the mental health of its users and facilitates the work of psychotherapists. The mental healthcare situation in the Czech Republic is alarming, so we're glad for the opportunity to participate in fulfilling the vision of quality and accessible psychological care.
The World Health Organization (WHO) states that mental health is an integral and essential part of overall health. Everyone should take care of it – regardless of whether they suffer from mental illness or not.
Especially during difficult stages of life, it is only natural to ask for help. Unfortunately, the Czech Republic has long been plagued by a shortage of psychologists and psychotherapists, and the pandemic has exacerbated this problem. There are now only seven psychologists per 100 000 residents, and the number of patients continues to rise – waiting times can extend to three months. In the Czech Republic, up to 700 000 people are struggling with symptoms of depression. However, the lack of specialists is not the only reason why they are not getting help. Social stigma and the fear of being considered crazy are also significant reasons.
Za většinou startupových projektů je osobní příběh. Jaký příběh je za webovou aplikací Mindwell?
I spent my entire student life in England, where I was for 10 years in total. Taking care of the human psyche was a given there. In college, we had a digital app that was completely different from anything I had encountered before. That gave me the inspiration to create Mindwell.
In the Czech Republic, this was and still is completely missing. I wanted to create a unique app based on my experience in England but adjust the whole interface to the needs of Czechs.
The goal is an app that doesn't address just calming techniques, but negative behavior patterns across the board. The techniques can then be easily applied to any difficult life situation. The added value of Mindwell is that it doesn't work on the principle of "help yourself", but there’s a therapist who provides feedback on the other side.
How big is your team and what are the requirements for it?
Our team consists of 10 people in total and we’re going to expand it further. The co-owner of the app is Prof.r Ján Praško, M.D., CSc., without whom none of what we do would be possible. Mindwell's investor is AKESO holding, which is one of the leading healthcare providers in the Czech Republic. The app is primarily a medical device and every addition to the team must have the necessary knowledge in the field, which we verify together with the investor.
Who exactly is the web application for and what specific use case does it address for its user?
The application solves two problems. The first is the lack of quality therapeutic care for clients suffering from mental health problems. The second is the lack of quality prevention. It is well known that stress can be prevented, for example, by regular exercise. However, this is only one piece of the puzzle – prevention is much more complex. Mindwell teaches us to work with stress in a systematic, step-by-step way, where we deal with stress in a holistic, in-depth way, not superficially.
Do you believe that technology can really save lives?
Saving is probably a strong word that we dare not say. But I do believe that when quality care is not available, technology can help.
After years of studying abroad and working in management positions, Jelena was looking for something that would have business potential but also benefit the whole society. The result was the leadership of Mindwell, a team of skilled and passionate professionals in their fields. Together they work to make you feel better in your own skin too.
Do you think that Czechs will find their way to psychohygiene through a mobile app?
Definitely. We keep hearing about how something works in “the West", but Czechs don't have it, don't want it, etc. It's not entirely true. Those things always find their way to us, albeit later.
How will the user use Mindwell?
Mindwell is currently conceived as a web application. It's designed primarily for the desktop. It consists of treatment programs according to clinical diagnoses that have a total of 12 modules (weeks), where each module corresponds to one session with a therapist. The modules build on each other logically and are locked until the client is let in by the therapist.
Our long term goal, which we are working hard on, is for Mindwell care to be covered by health insurance, so that clients can be referred to the app by their doctor. Until then, the client can purchase clinical and preventative programs as a self payer or receive them as an employee benefit. Mindwell therapy lasts a total of 3 months, which corresponds to the usual length of a CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) treatment course on which our program is based.
Can you tell us more about CBT and how the application makes use of it?
CBT assumes that a change in thinking can be induced by a change in behavior. This therapeutic approach helps the client understand how they think about themselves and other people, as well as how their actions affect their thoughts and feelings. It teaches them skills that can later be used in any uncomfortable situation.
Fortunately, CBT is very easy to digitalize. The tools are the same for all clinical diagnoses, only the client's personal story changes – that is also why there is a therapist accompanying the client. The therapist evaluates the client’s condition on a weekly basis and provides feedback on their progress within the module.
A window into the soul of eHealth apps:
Digital mental health – an increasingly used term for mental health in the digital environment. It is the use of technology and services to prevent mental health issues, as well as to provide help when they’re already manifesting. Today, it is commonly used to refer to the entire “digital health” market.
Psychohygiene – otherwise known as mental hygiene – is the science of how to strengthen and protect your mental health.
eHealth/kybermedicína – refers to the modern concept of eHealth, which uses information technology to diagnose and treat mental illness. Another activity of the eHealth sector is educating about healthy lifestyle principles.
The global eHealth market value for 2021 was $84.2 billion. Its value is projected to grow to $454.8 billion by 2030. (Source)
Tell us more about the technical side of the project. What was the journey for you from the initial idea through the technology to the actual working application?
During the prototyping process, we were forced to part ways with the original IT vendor. When we then handed the unfinished work to the partners, we were unpleasantly surprised by the assessment of the new partners. Our development environment was unsuitable, and there were no developers to help us finish the product in such a state. Therefore, we decided to build the platform again and in a better way this time.
When choosing technologies, we focused on proven and widely used development environments. The goal was to ensure the technological growth and robustness of the application. We use several independent interfaces – client, therapy and admin interfaces.
As Mindwell is a registered healthcare provider, the demands on the application and its solution were very high, either to protect sensitive data or in the context of working with insurance companies or physicians.
How did you come to INVENTI? How did the cooperation develop?
The app was originally created by another company, which was very challenging and stressful to work with.
What is worth paying attention to when developing an app?
Price quotes (laughs). In the end, the final price is always different. I remember when I apologized to our investor that the price was higher than we originally thought. He laughed and said: "Take the supplier's offer, add 30% to it and multiply it by two. Then you have realistic pricing. But always check." That made me laugh a lot.
How has INVENTI helped you meet standards for really sensitive issues like mental health?
Mindwell is a registered healthcare provider, so we keep medical records in our system. We keep extremely sensitive data in the app, including information about the clients' mental health, which we have to protect. This data is subject to different rules under GDPR. What makes our solution interesting is that there is nothing like it here yet. It's therefore a bit of a constant rollercoaster where we have to ask for the opinion of lawyers, data protection officers and doctors. The great thing about working with INVENTI was that the team actively met with whoever was needed to come up with a solution that was legally appropriate but also user-friendly.
What are your plans for the project in the future? Is the app going to evolve over time?
We have huge plans for the app so we don't intend to stop developing it.
What would you recommend to those who also have a business idea and would like to successfully implement it?
To gather all the courage and go for it. I have never been more scared in my life than I am now. I hardly sleep at all, I work on weekends and have a huge respect for the costs that come with such a development. But every day I am grateful that I was able to get to know Prof. Ján Praško, because without him none of this would have been possible. We have the chance to provide truly exceptional and high quality care and scale it up. What more could you ask for?