Get Help: A Search Engine for Mental Healthcare Professionals

Therese Arcangel
Oct 11, 2017 · 5 min read

Get Help is a search engine for mental healthcare professionals (think Yelp, but for treatment facilities). The search engine is intended to search nearby treatment facilities for patients as well as quickly place patients into facilities.

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Get Help Proposed Redesign

As of now, industry professionals’ search protocol for placing patients is to either rely on their limited rolodex of colleagues and peers or to resort to the casting-the-net-far-and-wide results-heavy list from Google.

The Goal

Get Help wants to maximize industry professional’s resources and streamline the searching and booking placement.

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In providing a search engine, users can expand their resources in junction as well as beyond their professional network.

Expanding the Rolodex

Currently, healthcare professionals are tapping into their professional network when it comes to placing patients. The primary issue with this, especially regarding the sensitive nature of mental healthcare, is the window of time between patient diagnosis and the patient changing their mind to pursue help.

This means of relying on a network can also be limiting. Relying on an inner network practicing clinicians, therapists, and other industry professionals can be difficult as these professionals also have their own schedule and responsibilities. The user runs the risk of being put on hold, being delayed a response, being denied available patient beds due to potential limited space from an already limiting network.

In providing a search engine, users can expand their resources in junction and beyond their professional. More options means more possibilities means increased chances of finding appropriate facilities for patients and placing them.

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Search Functionality

Our goal is to narrow the search with:

  1. Grant Autonomy
  2. More Accuracy
  3. Better Relevancy

The end result by addressing these three factors? Improving the speed and relevance of the search process and the results it yields. Note: As of now the results are exploring beyond a relevant radius if one inputs a city into the search-field. The accuracy and relevancy of the search is something to explore on the developer side.

A Free Form Search

Upon competitor analysis and usability testing, we noticed that most users — healthcare professionals and non-healthcare professionals alike preferred the standard free form search. The free form search is a practice popularly used and made standard by search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and more specific search engines such as Yelp.

This type of search granted users autonomy as well as familiarity to a way they have been used to conducting their searches.

Get Help’s beta app currently has users search solely by selecting key phrases related to mental health such as “detox” and “in-patient.” Mental healthcare professionals struggled to use this feature and found it time consuming. We soon realized that the pre-select search functioned more as a hinderance and constraint rather than a means of assistance.

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Direct and In-direct competitors included search engines such as Google and Yelp, and similar competitors such as Zocdoc, Psychology Today and Web MD.

Additional Features: Placing Patients

The key to streamlining the process of finding a treatment facility and placing patients in facilities was to discover our Point A and Point B.

Point A was defined as the search bar/engine itself, and Point B is defined as the in-take form.

Certain features and information also needed to be added in order to provide clarity to afford the user easier decision making. Crucial information that was asked to be added were:

  1. Bed availability
  2. In-take forms

Design Solutions

Part of what was discovered in usability testing and our competitive comparative analysis was that part of what deterred users from having a frictionless user journey was due to moments of confusion.

In identifying where there was room for clarity, we realized we needed to provide more context and labels for certain pages and icons. Just like someone navigating through a city, icons and accompanying names for streets, buildings, the same way-finding systems help a user navigate a mobile app. With that, three opportunities for improvement were:

  1. Icon Familiarity
  2. Language
  3. Labels
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Heuristic Evaluation helped determine room for improvement regarding usability.

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Best practice shows no more than 5 icons in the navigation system. This is mostly due to available real estate on mobile.

A Visual Lexicon

Aside from best practice of how many icons should be used in a global nav for mobile, we also had to acknowledge that there is an already existing visual lexicon that users have become accustomed to. Using icons that differ from the familiar can cause confusion and extra time forcing the user to try and figure things out vs. the user getting to the end goal of the app.

Below is a visual glossary of popular icon use cases shown alongside the current icons being used within the app.

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We also needed to incorporate the use of labels to create expectations as well as orient them to where they are.

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Labels help orient users and create clear expectations of what information they will find.


By revising the interface to be more clear and obvious through updated icons and accompanied labels we improved the learnability and memorability of the app.

And by allowing the search bar to function as a free form search, we granted users autonomy in their search. Users were no longer held back or confined to using pre-selected phrases. They were open to conducting a search on a spectrum of single words to short phrases to sentence-like search inputs.

Click here to see the working prototype:

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About Therese

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I’m a UI UX designer interested empowering individuals and enhancing human experiences.

Currently open to full-time UI UX opportunities in LA and NY.

Contact Info:

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