Espri

  • UX
  • Web
  • Mobile

This multi-tenanted digital health app empowers frontline workers to connect with counselors and access digital tools to support their mental health and wellbeing.

Project Summary

TELUS Health uses the power of technology to create better health experiences for Canadians. Connecting health teams, streamlining workflows, and empowering patients to manage their health are just some of the ways their digital solutions promote collaboration and efficiency within the health industry.

FreshWorks partnered with TELUS Health to create Espri Mental Health, multi-tenanted digital health app that enables organizations to support their frontline workers with targeted mental health resources. There is both a mobile app and a web component in the system, and the framework is multi-tenanted which enables white-labelling and customization of the mobile app for other industries. Espri can be tailored to the unique mental health and wellness priorities of any industry, such as law enforcement, healthcare, and emergency services.

The Espri project began as a response to the pandemic to help frontline workers cope with mental health challenges. The team faced a short 3-month timeline to launch the application. FreshWorks conducted a rapid but in-depth user research phase and developed the applications with the guidance of occupation-focused clinicians. As a result, Espri provides frontline workers with a unique combination of tools that are easily accessible – including clinically-informed content, resilience tools, group counselling sessions, and peer and crisis support. 

The Challenge

The Invisible Toll of the Frontline

 

7 in 10 healthcare workers reported worsening mental health
during the COVID-19 pandemic

– According to a study by Statistics Canada

Frontline workers have also reported increased anxiety, depression, insomnia, and distress during the pandemic. This is often caused by job-related stressors, such as risk of exposure to infection, compassion fatigue, overworking, and the psychological impact of isolation and interpersonal distancing. 

Despite the magnitude of mental health problems among front-line workers, their psychological health is often overlooked. Without access to timely support, mental health issues can often go untreated, leading to burnout or worsening of symptoms. To help support the mental health and wellbeing of Canada’s frontline workers, the Espri Mental Health project began.

Critical Response Timeline

The project was kicked off at the beginning of COVID to help first responders deal with mental health challenges on the front line. Due to the critical nature of the project, the timeline was expedited and the application needed to be built within a few months. This meant that work needed to be executed efficiently at every stage of the project. Following our well defined agile development process, we were able to produce a high-quality, intuitive application within 3 months.  

"It was gratifying to have the opportunity to work on a project where the goal is to provide mental health support, even more so in current times. The Espri team was made up of super talented and engaged people. I really believe that working on an impactful project has contributed to this engagement."

Bruno Savoini

Android Developer

"It was gratifying to have the opportunity to work on a project where the goal is to provide mental health support, even more so in current times. The Espri team was made up of super talented and engaged people. I really believe that working on an impactful project has contributed to this engagement."

Bruno Savoini

Android Developer

Remote Work

The project began during the beginning of the pandemic. This meant the team from Telus Health and FreshWorks was learning to navigate remote work at the same time. 

By working collaboratively with the team members from Telus Health, we were able to break down this barrier through proactive communication and responsive design work. For example, during the discovery and design phase we expedited the creation of wireframes for the application and shared with the key stakeholders on the project. This visual context improved alignment across teams, demonstrated how the application could look like in real life, and provided an informed avenue for further iteration and design. 

With an emphasis on proper planning, our teams adopt a shared ownership on every project – a strategy that promotes effective communication and high performance standards. During this project, our entire team participated in daily stand ups and sprint planning to ensure progress was regularly discussed and implemented. We find that our collaborative process ensures that each team member has a clear understanding of the project work that needs to be completed, regardless if the team is remote or not. 

The Solution

Launched in January 2021, Espri addresses the unique needs of Canada’s front-line workers and empowers organizations to support their employees with targeted mental health support. Working closely with Telus Health and occupation-focused clinicians, FreshWorks built a set of customized tools to empower mental wellness during times of uncertainty and crisis. The multi-tenanted digital health app can be tailored to the unique mental health and wellness priorities of any organization.

Multi-Tenanted Digital Health App

The ESPRI mobile app is multi-tenanted and highly configurable for the needs of the specific organization.

What does multi-tenanted mean?

Multi-tenancy means that a single instance of software serves multiple customers. Each customer, or tenant, shares the software application and a single database. Each tenant’s data is isolated and remains invisible to other tenants.

Some of the main benefits of a multi-tenanted application include:

Fast Deployment

Given the consistent nature of the software, multi-tenancy makes it quicker and easier to set up new customers. This greatly improves the time-to-value with faster deployment speeds.

Cost Savings

Shared database and application provide cost-savings for each new customer onboarded.

Convenience

The architecture allows for seamless maintenance and management.

Configurable

The application can be customized with an organization’s logo, brand colours, and relevant content so they can provide a tailored mental health solution for all of their employees, no matter the industry.

Project Discovery & Design

FreshWorks follows a well-defined iterative model of Discovery, Design, Development, Testing, Release, and Post-Release Maintenance. Our processes have been refined after years of hard work and experience with app development projects. 

What happened during Discovery?

Our team conducted a user research-driven discovery phase to help uncover a solid understanding of the user requirements. In this phase, we aim to empathize with users, create an ideal user journey, and solve problems efficiently through data-driven decisions. For example, our team interviewed occupation hazard-focused clinicians that have experience working with first responders. One of the interviewees was a paramedic that became a physician to help his co-workers navigate the mental challenges of the job. These subject matter experts help inform the user experience and proactively collect feedback. 

A particular session was focused on replicating the experience of a group counseling session in a virtual setting. It was crucial to place the safety of the user as the number one priority. This meant asking the right questions to gain a better understanding of how the users would feel, think, and actions they would take in certain situations. This insight provided a high-level picture of the project specifications and user requirements.

Can you describe a typical group counselling session format

What are the rules of the session

What are the goals of the session and how do you measure success

What are the agreements and expectations for each person involved

Posing thoughtful, open-ended questions directly to counsellors, frontline workers, and other potential end users helped us create a more useful product.

Achieving an Optimal UX and UI

Research and user feedback is not a single phase but should be iterative and ongoing. Our team worked with the same clinicians repeatedly, including before and after we finished the initial wireframes. Building this closed feedback loop was essential to designing an application that prioritizes the user experience and maintains intuitive functionality. We determined what the clinicians’ needs and pain points were, then confirmed that the product would address them by showing it to them. This process can take time, but in the long run, it saves time to build the right solution the first time around.

Privacy & Data Security

The discovery and design phase of the application went beyond the standard considerations of replicating a group counseling session virtually. At every step in the process, we thoroughly vetted and prioritized user privacy and security. Part of this meant asking the right questions during clinician interviews. Below are a few examples from the sessions:

When I’m in a session, do I let people know my first and last name?

When I’m in a session, do I let people know my first and last name?

Can I go into the session without sharing my name?

Can I go into the session without sharing my name?

By capturing and implementing user feedback, we were able to build an application that prioritized privacy and security at every service touchpoint.  

The Features

The Espri application is available on mobile and web for first responders and their organizations. Frontline workers can access the application on their iOS or Android mobile device once invited by the organization owner. Administrators and organization owners login through the web application where they are able to access, customize, and share the full range of health services and resources to support their employees.

Admin
Web App
iOS & Android
Mobile App

multiplatform gadgets icon in red  Mobile Application Features

Relevant & Clinically-informed Content

The Learn Resource Hub offers quick access to helpful occupation-specific content for frontline workers and their families. This includes occupationally-aware mental health and wellness resources such as education sessions facilitated by TELUS Health clinicians and articles, podcasts, and videos.

Support resources can be customized to meet the specific needs of each organization. For example, an organization supporting firefighters could share articles specifically related to stress management during shift work. 

Frontline workers also have the option to save articles for offline viewing. This feature improves accessibility for users in rural communities, or in areas with poor access to WiFi and cellular networks.

Resilience Tools

Designed with first responders and psychologists using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, My Plan supports positive habit building through goal-setting. With intuitive tabs organized into active goals and achievements, frontline workers are able to track and measure their progress in a meaningful way. 

My Plan offers customized reminders and suggested templates to help organizations easily promote team resilience and behavioural activation within their organization. 

Goals are organized into topics such as sleep, stress, and resilience, allowing users to easily group their goals into actionable categories. 

Group Video for Education & Counselling Sessions

Sessions, an integrated group video feature, lets organizations host education, fitness, therapeutic group support, critical incident debriefs, orientations, mentoring, or peer support online. No matter the organization or industry, Sessions provides a seamless video conferencing experience that enables participants to engage with each other. 

Users can view their current, upcoming, and previous meetings on separate tabs for easy navigation. 

Each session has a Learn More feature that provides detailed information on the time, attendance capacity, description, and rules of the session. This promotes transparent communication in a connected virtual environment.

One-touch Access to Crisis Support

Get Support gives frontline workers one-click access to an organization’s support resources, such as crisis lines, employee and family assistance programs, critical incident stress programs, and healthcare professionals. 

The section is organized into two tabs – Support and Urgent. The Support tab provides important links and contact information from organizations like Canadian Mental Health Association, and Crisis Services Canada.

The Urgent tab provides direct access to crisis lines for moments of critical need. This feature streamlines access to help and enables organizations to support their employees during difficult times. 

Peer Support

Mental health challenges can be a personal and sensitive subject for many individuals. Users may not feel comfortable sharing their experiences with someone within their network.

Peer Support removes this barrier by facilitating support conversations from outside the user’s social sphere. For example, a paramedic with Alberta Health services might not want to talk to someone within Alberta. Peer support gives them the option to talk to someone from a different province.

The user is able to request peer support from a list of different peer supporters – they will call the user and start a conversation.

computer icon in red Admin Web Application Features 


Espri provides an exceptional user experience and relevant resources to support the mental health of frontline workers. All web users including super admin, admin, and physician, log in to the same spot but have different privileges. The web application allows administrators and physicians to access and tailor resources and tools to manage their organization. The application is securely accessed through user invitation from organization admins. 

3 Web Application Users

Super Admin

Provides Telus Health an overview of all applications across different organizations.

Admin

The organization owner can access the application tailored to their organization.

Physician

Allows physicians to access calendars and set up appointments with users or groups.

Customizing The Application

The organization admin can invite users and physicians to the application. The super admin is able to create new organizations and customize the application to the needs within their organization and industry.

Tailored Content

The admin can create content customized for their organization, such as articles in the learn tab, contacts on the contact page, and my customized plan goals and activities.

Scheduling Appointments

Once invited by the organization admin, physicians can sign up, login, create new group counseling sessions, and add them into the calendar.

Session Video Conferencing

Physicians invited by the organization can schedule and start group video conferencing within the application. This helps the psychologist or practitioner assess the employees’ needs through a connected environment.

Results

Released in January 2021, the Espri app will transform access to care for frontline workers across Canada. With a customized toolset that empowers organizations across multiple industries, Espri enables tailored mental health support for those who need it most.  

This multi-tenanted digital health app provides a unique combination of individual and group support and empowers users to take charge of their mental health and wellbeing. With peer and group support, frontline workers are able to heal in a connected, safe environment. Self-help resources ranging from articles, videos, and podcasts give users autonomy and flexibility to manage their health in a way that works for them.

Technologies

The iOS app was developed in the Swift programming language using the Xcode software development kit. We prefer programming iOS apps using native languages because it provides flexibility, consistency, and agility which ultimately delivers the best user experience. 

Since 2014, our Android development team has built dozens of modern applications using native programming languages. This highly performant approach has allowed us to deliver robust applications for organizations across North America. The Android app for Espri was built in Kotlin and utilizes the Android Studio development SDK.

The backend of the Espri application was built using Node.js, Nest.js and Typescript. The frontend uses HTML and React. The apps are hosted on Telus’ AWS platform.

Our team used the CHBase database to store user medical information with a high level of security and compliance. We also used Telus IDM, an identity management platform that provides secure access to CHBase.

Our team used JIRA for project management and BitBucket for version control.

Learn More

What's Next?

We recently kicked off a project extension and are adding more configurability to the existing features of the application. 

The My Plan feature will be modifiable from the admin perspective, allowing administrators to update goals and activities for each organization. For example, an administrator will be able to tailor the goals and associated activities to meet the needs of their organization and frontline workers. This provides a robust and personalized experience for users across different organizations. 

With actionable self-help resources, virtual counseling, crisis support, and customized goal-setting, Espri supports the unique needs of Canada’s frontline workers. We are proud to work with Telus Health on an initiative that will modernize and transform access to care for thousands of frontline workers across the country. 

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