BetterMe, VOS, MyFitnessPal, and Yes Health are just some of the numerous platforms in the app stores, aimed at helping their users build healthy habits. The trend for creating health coaching apps is definitely growing, so is it a sensible idea to try and build a platform of your own?
We view the existing health coaching apps on the market as an opportunity to learn from their experience — and find an answer to the question of how to build an online health coaching app that is unique.
In this article, we focus on one of the most prominent cases on this list and provide you with a fundamental guide on health coaching app must-have features, useful API integrations, and costs to build it all. We also share Mind Studios’ experience of building a remote coaching app Fitr and a wellness platform Envol.
So, let's figure out how to develop health coach apps like BetterMe.
The Fitr coaching app interface developed by MindStudios
What makes BetterMe app so unique
Health coaching platforms often have just one narrow focus, meaning they can help you with building one or two habits: for instance, meditating, drinking a sufficient amount of water, or practicing yoga. BetterMe, a sensation in the world of health apps, offers a whole complex of tools to motivate you to live a full and healthy life.
Since it was founded in 2016, over 100 million users have installed BetterMe. While it started off as a virtual weight loss assistant, the platform gradually grew into 2 major products: BetterMe Health Coaching and BetterMe Mental Health.
Here are a few reasons why BetterMe has become so popular. The health coaching platform offers:
- Customized meal plans that shift focus from restrictive dieting to finding healthy dietary balance
- Workout plans for people with different activity levels and sports background
- Tools that assist in building new habits and changing users’ behavior permanently
- Cognitive behavioral therapy techniques aimed at improving mental wellbeing
- Easy-to-use tracking tools that keep users motivated by their own progress
- Decent amount of free content that is inclusive and is tailored to the needs of seniors, plus-size users, and people with limited mobility
- BetterMe Band that allows users to connect to their wearable devices and track progress more effectively
- Personal health coach option for users who want to become healthier with a certified coach’s support
We are especially excited to be writing about this project since BetterMe CEO and co-founder, Victoria Repa, is a Ukrainian, just like most specialists at Mind Studios. What is more, BetterMe story started in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine.
Here is how Victoria describes her behavioral healthcare platform in an interview for ValiantCEO:
“BetterMe is formed around the principle that an active, healthy lifestyle is available to everyone, but that can only happen once you’ve got your mind right and eliminated the bad habits that dragged you down in the first place. Devised by a team of dieticians, coaches, and psychologists and armed with that data, BetterMe generates a well-rounded wellness plan that includes traditional diet and workout efforts with cutting-edge psychology training centered around the tenets of cognitive-behavioral therapy.”
Features for your health coaching app
Conducting proper research and gathering users’ insights to come up with features that your audience truly need is key to successfully building a wellness coach app similar to BetterMe.
Obviously, the functionalities of your app will depend on its main goals. However, the list below contains versatile features that most health coaching apps can benefit from. These are also the features that you will find on BetterMe and its alternatives.
These come in many forms, including real video workouts and 3D animated models. It’s essential to make the workouts inclusive so that any user can find exercises that suit their requirements. To implement this, you will need to create an easily searchable library of workout content.
Keeping track of your own achievements is an excellent motivator. Depending on the app’s focus, it can display the distance of users’ morning runs or bicycle trips, minutes they’ve spent meditating, number of days without smoking and so on.
Personalized meal programs
Meal plans need to be adjusted to users’ health goals. Some might want to lose weight, while others can strive to build stronger muscles or maintain their current weight.
The recipe database also has to be inclusive of people with various dietary restrictions. For instance, BetterMe offers meal plans that suit various diets, like keto, vegan, pescatarian, gluten-free, etc.
Calorie and water intake trackers
Proper nutrition and water consumption are an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. Make sure the water intake tracker includes a calculator that helps users define the amount of water they need to drink.
As for calorie trackers, it can be useful to allow users to manually add their own products and meals to the database.
Sign up/sign in
While it’s a common practice to ask for registration at the very beginning, you can let the users browse for a bit and ask them to sign up once they are hooked.
Make sure the registration process is easy and quick so that the users don’t quit the app before exploring it. The simplest way to do it is allowing sign up and sign in via an email or social media accounts like Facebook or Twitter.
In addition to standard information like name, age, and gender, health coaching apps usually require such data as the user’s height, weight, and activity level. In addition, it might be useful to let the users choose what medical conditions they have in order to, later on, make the workouts more mindful of their needs.
User profiles also need to include the history of exercises and other activities on the app, as well as access to subscription plans.
Depending on the focus of your app, you will need to collaborate with various experts, like fitness coaches, nutritionists, therapists, etc. These experts will need their own accounts to add content to the platform and manage on-demand sessions if your app offers that option.
Also, they will need to add certifications and other credentials to prove they are qualified to provide consultations.
On-demand sessions with coaches
One-on-one coaching sessions with fitness experts, nutrition coaches, and other specialists is a great way to both make the user experience more customized and monetize the app. What is more, it gives experts a platform where they can find new clients in exchange for a small fee from what they charge for a session.
Live text, audio, and video chats
This feature serves as another tool for communication between users and coaches, and therefore, is often found in premium versions of apps. However, you can also make a basic AI-powered text chat that answers most common questions users have.
Adding, editing and moderating content, managing users, and communicating with the user community are just a few cases when you will need an admin panel. Access to this side of the app should be given only to the app owner and a limited number of specialists involved in the app management process.
The list of features in this block is not extensive, but common to health coaching apps. Mind Studios usually creates a complete list of features after analyzing the needs of your particular target audience. If you already have an idea for a coaching app in mind — don’t hesitate to request a consultation with us, and we’ll discuss possible ways to implement it.
Tech stack for health coaching app development
Whether you want to develop a mental health coaching app, create a health app with a fitness helper, or build something entirely different — the choice of technology will vary depending on the features. However, here is the core tech stack that would fit most of the apps of this kind:
|The technology stack for a health coaching app|
|Front-end||Vue.js, Axios, Bootstrap, Webpack, Video.js, TipTap, Sass|
|Back-end||Ruby on Rails, Nginx, Sidekiq, FFMpeg|
|Android||Kotlin, MVVM, Clean Architecture, Firebase Crashlytics|
|iOS||SwiftUI, Firebase Crashlytics, Composable Architecture||Database||PostgreSQL, MySQL, MongoDB|
|Real-time analytics||Firebase, Datadog|
|Cloud storage||Amazon S3|
|Push notifications||Firebase, APNs||Payment gateway||PayPal, Stripe|
|Audio / video calls||WebRTC|
API integrations for your coaching app like BetterMe
In addition to the technologies we’ve listed in the previous section, a health coaching app will require certain API integrations in order to be compatible. This means connecting the app to other applications that will enhance the functionality of your platform, specifically through data sharing.
What API integrations exactly might be beneficial to your online coaching app? Here are four examples.
Google Fit API
This Google service was created to keep track of health data through different wearable devices. Basically, it integrates with digital watches and fitness trackers to collect all data in one place. The data can include the number of daily steps, weight, heart rate, etc. BetterMe is just one of many apps that uses the Google Fit service.
This API gives access to thousands of recipes, packaged food products, and even chain restaurant menu items. In addition to calculating the nutritional value of the food, this API also allows users to estimate meal costs, find recipes with products they already have, and even create meal plans that correspond to various dietary requirements.
BMI calculator API
Most health coaching apps use the Body Mass Index API. The calculation is based on users’ height and weight, and it is used to help determine fitness and nutritional goals, as well as an action plan to achieve them.
The platform collects health data from various devices, including wearables. More specifically, it includes users’ body measurements, and health indicators like blood glucose, blood pressure, and heart rate. It also tracks users’ goals regarding activity level, nutrition, sleep, and weight.
The APIs listed above are just a few of those connected to activity, nutrition, and dataset integrations. However, there are more third-party integrations your app might need, including navigation, communication, and payment APIs. As a rule, we determine a more specific list of APIs after conducting research and finalizing the app concept.
Health coaching app development cost
The platform type, its feature set, and overall complexity are just a few factors that influence the cost to build an app like BetterMe. If you have a particular idea in mind, feel free to book a free consultation with our business development experts who will give you a more accurate calculation.
In the meantime, we’ve made a rough estimate of how much it might cost you to build a health coaching app like BetterMe based on the set of features mentioned in this article. The numbers below are based on a $45/hour rate, which is common for Eastern European development companies.
|Stage||What it involves||Time, hours||Cost, USD|
|Discovery stage||We evaluate the idea, research the market, study the target audience’s needs and come up with the solutions that fit the client’s business goals.||100||4,500|
|UI/UX design||Our UI/UX designers finalize the set of features and the visual concept of the app, and create each screen of the product in low-, medium- and high-fidelity prototypes.||240||10,800|
|iOS development||The developers transform the high-fidelity prototypes into code for the future iOS app.||1200||54,000|
|Android development||The developers transform the high-fidelity prototypes into code for the future Android app.||1280||57,600|
|Back-end development||The developers work on the server side of the application, which involves working with APIs, databases, the security of the app, and its architecture.||960||43,200|
|Testing||Our QA specialists test the app and report any malfunctions they come across so that the developers can fix those.||560||25,200|
|Project management||Throughout the whole development process, our PMs ensure the clarity of communication between the client and the team and facilitate the timely delivery of the product.||600||27,000|
|Total time and cost estimate||4,940||222,300|
Our experience in health coaching app development
One of the most crucial recommendations when searching for a development partner is to pay attention to the company’s previous projects and look for relevant experience. And it just so happens that Mind Studios has become an expert in health & sports application development.
While two of our biggest projects connected to the industry are very different from each other, they both are truly extraordinary, and we are here to prove it.
Our client, Leon Cassidy, entrusted us with a task to build a remote coaching platform aimed at simplifying the work of fitness coaches — and that’s exactly what we did. On Fitr, coaches manage their workout programs and finances, and most importantly, get an opportunity to spend less time managing existing clients and focus on finding new ones.
Anton Shatalov, Mind Studios’ CTO, recalls that he knew we’ve built a successful platform one month after the monetization system was launched. Later on, the data on Fitr coaches’ LTV (lifetime value) proved him right.
“Out of every 100 coaches signing up to Fitr, 50 are still using it a year later. In a world with a wide range of different fitness products, that’s a pretty obvious indicator of success. However, we are striving to make that number even higher.”
Four years after the launch, we continue to support and update Fitr. What is more, as part of the Fitr team, we got to develop a training platform for HWPO, the company of Mat Fraser, a true CrossFit legend.
The main idea of this app is to assist people with regaining their physical and mental health through evidence-based holistic practices like guided meditations and sound journeys.
When we met with Julie and Tim, the creators of the Envol platform, for the first time, they already had an app and a customer base. However, they weren’t completely satisfied with the tech side of it, so we offered our services to build them a more efficient and user-friendly application.
As a result, we built iOS and Android apps, successfully completed user data migration, and launched a renewed version of Envol. Now, it’s an essential tool for people healing from injuries and chronic diseases.
The abundance of successful platforms like BetterMe can be a bit overwhelming to those who are just planning to join the club of health coaching mobile app owners. However, speaking from experience, there is always a way to find a profitable market niche and build a one-of-a-kind app that appeals to target users.
Basically, you can build a health coaching app like BetterMe — but not exactly like it. You can add new features that haven’t been widely explored yet. Or you can focus on a narrower target audience, such as the elderly, people healing from PTSD, or teenagers striving to become athletes. There is no limit when it comes to ideas for health coaching app development.
Even if your project concept is not quite there yet — Mind Studios’ team is ready to assist you with finding solid yet unique solutions that will make your platform thrive.
Health and fitness app market was valued at USD 5.7 billion in 2020, and it’s not going to stop growing any time soon. By 2028, this number is expected to reach USD 25.2 billion, indicating a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 20.15%.
What is more, the role of health coaching platforms in this industry is becoming more and more significant. Now, instead of one-fits-all harsh dietary restrictions and generic workouts, users can go through the journey of becoming healthier with programs customized to their needs.
If after reading this article, you confirm your decision to create an app like BetterMe, you can now move forward to making this intention a reality. Mind Studios is here for you if you need to validate your idea, create a solid development strategy, and eventually implement it.
Book a free consultation with our business development team, and we’ll answer any questions you have regarding health coaching app development.