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Rapidly revolutionising critical mental health services


four young adults looking over a balcony at a sunset

Rapidly revolutionising critical mental health services for the UK's leading service provider

  • Category: Healthcare Connected Customer Experience

Kooth's digital mental health services support thousands of young people and adults towards better mental health and emotional wellbeing. Kin + Carta partnered with Kooth to launch two core mental health and well-being platforms.

Kooth, a designated platform for children and young people, and Qwell, the adult equivalent, offer a range of services including early intervention support and access to a team of experienced counsellors, removing the traditional barriers to entry such as waiting lists, sub-threshold assessments, stigma, etc. With over 46,000 visitors to their platforms every month, this is a critical service for many individuals as well as for their partner organisations such as NHS commissioners.

The collaboration between Kooth and Kin + Carta achieved rapid success with lasting impact. Our work helped Kooth improve a critical service that relies on trust, speed and professionalism to get people the help they need, when they need it. As a result, the updated system was able to handle over 3,000x more users at any one time than previously.

Accelerating innovation through partnership

A sensitive subject matter and a critical timeline meant that Kooth needed a partner it could trust from day one. This required a team with proven technical capability, flexibility, the capacity to share knowledge with the Kooth team and build in-house capability.

Kooth's Chief Technology and Product Officer, Giles Alexander, tasked Kin + Carta with relaunching the Kooth and Qwell websites and with bolstering the ability of his internal team in agile ways of working and a culture of continuous improvement. This enabled Kooth to serve a growing user base with even greater efficiency.

Woman explaining something to male laptop user

Quality development. Quick delivery.

With speed a critical success factor, Kin + Carta and the Kooth teams came together to quickly assess the existing infrastructure and trace performance issues in high-risk areas of the codebase, which allowed us to pinpoint issues.

Following this, we implemented a scaling solution and a load-testing framework to improve performance of the apps. From the number of users the system could comfortably support, to the average API response time Kooth wanted to achieve - we benchmarked our progress with real-time data and continued to tweak, until we were confident that performance could not just meet but exceed people’s expectations.

We continually shared our development expertise as part of a pairing policy between Kin + Carta and Kooth engineers; our changes have had lasting impact. This means that the Kooth team will continue to reap the rewards of agile ways of working long after our involvement.

Mobile screenshot from the Kooth platform Mobile screenshot from the Kooth platform
Product designs developed by Kooth design partners

Building the right tech stack

Using Stackdriver and Locust to diagnose performance issues.

Measuring app status, capacity and performance enabled the joint team to rapidly identify major performance improvement opportunities. Using Stackdriver for code hotspots and service logs, and Locust to simulate load the team determined a baseline performance score to measure improvements.


Resolving system crashes and other performance issues

Kin + Carta tested each service in isolation to resolve frequent site crashes in the cloud-based system caused by too many containers overloading the nodes. We fixed memory leaks in the codebase for a number of performance critical services.


Future-proofing through daily testing

We ran daily tests via Locust and a Grafana dashboard to ensure that development changes had the desired impact on response times, failed requests and load capacity.

Where the changes didn’t have the intended impact, we leveraged the logging carried out with Stackdriver to diagnose and resolve issues before the next round of tests.

Ultimately, our thorough evaluation of the technical requirements for Kooth meant a lasting impact on its services, instead of just providing quick fixes for the problems at hand.

The results

Performance Objectives:

  • The number of concurrent users the system was capable of handling grew from 30 to 960, exceeding the target of 840.
  • The average API response time fell from 1600ms to 480ms, exceeding the target of 500ms.
  • The rate of system errors at load reduced from 0.8% to 0.000178% (a x450 improvement)
  • Seamlessly released Kooth and Qwell Platforms.

Growing Capability

  • Kooth facilitated the 2nd release requiring only 1/3 of the original Kin + Carta team
  • 1st release launched in 2 months and 2nd release launched just 3 weeks later
  • Enabled continuous releases
2 months to deploy 1st release
480ms average API response time
x450 improvement in rate of system errors at load