A review of the state of the science supporting app-based mental health solutions in 2018, highlighted some interesting facts about the field.
Firstly, there is emerging evidence that mental health applications that are based on solid theory, seem to report moderate to large effect sizes för depressive and anxious issues. There are some indications that the disseminations of these solutions, can lift some burden on healthcare providers and improve clinical efficiency. There is a trend within healthcare towards patients demanding more self-care solutions and control over preventive work, and digital health is a way to satisfy that demand.
There however, seems to be somewhat of a lag between the development of these services, and their inclusion to healthcare. A principal reason, seems to be that there is no real standardized set of evaluation criteria to go by. In evaluation standard therapy, RCT studies take about 3-5 years to perform fully. Applications can be built in a matter of weeks, and that should lead to a different set of criteria for which the solution can be judged.
The authors therefore recommend a different set of criteria to evaluate eHealth solutions, that is focused more on rapid small-scale testing of the solution on targeted populations. The speed with which digital solutions can be iterated and updated, make them promising for quickly building something with reasonable validity.
Bush, N. E., Armstrong, C. M., & Hoyt, T. V. (2019). Smartphone apps for psychological health: A brief state of the science review. Psychological Services, 16(2), 188-195