Case Study

Reducing compute costs to better serve vulnerable people mental health care with Mentech

Client
Mentech
Industries
Healthcare, Life Sciences
Technologies
Amazon Aurora, Amazon Elastic Container Service, Amazon Kinesis, Amazon S3, Amazon Timestream, Amazon Web Services, AWS Fargate
Products & Services
Cloud Migration, Infrastructure
Region
EMEA, North EMEA
Country
Eindhoven, Netherlands

60%

decrease in costs

30%

increase in system reliability

10%

decrease in cloud spend

Meet Mentech

Mentech leverages DoiT and AWS Teams to reduce their cloud spend by 10% and reduce issues by 30%

Mentech is a Dutch company founded to give vulnerable people a voice. Those people with significant health challenges like dementia or intellectual disabilities can struggle to advocate for their emotional and physical needs – often at the expense of getting appropriate medical care. “Misunderstood behaviour is often caused by stress, and stress can be measured with physiological parameters,“ says Reon Smits, co-founder and CTO, Mentech. “To help vulnerable people and their caregivers, we needed a way to measure, visualize and communicate stress and stress build-up in order to get appropriate healthcare. That’s the idea behind Mentech.”

The challenge

Mentech developed their flagship product HUME, a powerful system that measures stress in real time, based on data collected via biofeedback sensors and artificial intelligence models to translate physiology into a stress-response. Wearables include a chest strap, a patch, and a sock with sensors, giving a range of options that suit different people’s comfort levels. The data gathered can be displayed in a dashboard on a tablet or smartphone, where caregivers can view stress levels, get early warnings of stress development, and investigate the causes of stress with diagnostic insights.

As a ‘digital native’, Mentech developed its software solution in a cloud environment from the start, working with AWS cloud solutions like AWS Fargate and Amazon Elastic Container Service. Mentech’s small, young IT team built everything themselves, tailored to meet the needs of the business and their solutions. But as the company and its user base grew, stability of the product became an increasing IT priority; the team needed to optimize its cloud environment for reliability and efficiency.

“We had a great foundation, and now we needed expertise to help us run our solution more efficiently, and to make sure it can scale with our growth,” says Smits. “With their in-depth knowledge of AWS cloud services and its around-the-clock technical support, DoiT offered exactly what we were looking for to grow our cloud capabilities to better serve our customers and our business – without the runaway costs and resources..”

The solution

Like many startups and scaleups, Mentech didn’t have resources – budget or people – to waste; they needed to hit the ground running and deliver that efficient scaling quickly. But to support Mentech’s business over a longer term, Smits and his team wanted to build up their own cloud expertise. DoiT helped with both, quickly tackling the most pressing technology needs while providing tailored training sessions to build up Mentech team’s own knowledge base. DoiT’s close collaboration with AWS also offered Mentech a direct line to the teams building the products underlying Mentech’s infrastructure.

Migrating the data warehouse to Amazon S3 to increase reliability and reduce costs by 60%

There were a couple of known issues Smits and his team wanted to solve first. They were using an external SQL database, for example, which filled up too quickly, leading to increased costs.

“DoiT helped us to move from a monolithic and vertically scaling database that kept getting more expensive to a horizontally scaling solution that costs 60 % less,” says Sakis Kasampalis, Software Architect at Mentech. “We did it by migrating our large monolithic database to a combination of fine-grained AWS services: Amazon Timestream for the real-time data, Amazon S3 as the long-term storage, and Amazon Aurora for a short-lived subset of our data.”

Another issue was back pressure. Mentech’s system sometimes experienced trouble handling all incoming data from users’ wearables. With support from DoiT and AWS, the team identified the causes and took steps to improve the system, for example by storing metadata on Amazon RDS instead of Amazon S3 and by replacing HTTP 1.1 with HTTP/2. As a result, tickets raised and errors detected have dropped, showing a system reliability improved by at least 30%.

“We knew there was an issue with back pressure in our system, but we didn’t know where it came from or how to solve it,” says Smits. “It takes quite a lot of in-depth knowledge with AWS to find a solution for these more difficult problems, and that’s exactly what DoiT delivered.”

Finding infrastructure weaknesses with a Well-Architected Framework Review

After solving the system’s most pressing cost and reliability issues, it was time to really optimize the infrastructure for maximum efficiency. DoiT led Mentech through a comprehensive AWS Well-Architected Framework Review, a systematic and proprietary approach to compare a company’s AWS workloads against AWS best practices. With support from the DoiT team, Mentech reviewed the results and implemented the recommended changes. Two such changes were to add a backup system for its databases to avoid data losses in case of a crash, and to implement Multi-Factor Authentication to increase security. Both of these changes served Mentech to increase their uptime and strengthen the security posture of their infrastructure.

“The Well-Architected Framework Review that DoiT led helped us to really pinpoint the weaknesses in our cloud infrastructure, and then to systematically improve the scalability and general reliability of our systems. With these recommendations and others, we’re now confident that our architecture is sound, especially after solving our data warehouse and NAT gateway issues,” says Kasampalis. “Working with DoiT was an excellent experience for us, as they leveraged AWS technologies to enhance our cloud environment, increase productivity and reduce cloud spending by 10%.”

The result

Boosting user growth with a future-proof, scalable foundation

DoiT’s deep cloud expertise gave Mentech the confidence to grow their business as they were scaling up and needed a more reliable and efficient cloud environment. Since the beginning of their partnership with DoiT and AWS, the HUME user base has grown by a factor of five, and the systems are now designed to handle an even bigger influx of customers and traffic. The system is now designed to automatically resolve potential crashes, ensuring that customers can have complete confidence in the reliability of the solution.

“By helping to fix infrastructure issues we had in the past, DoiT helped us grow our user base significantly,” says Smits. “More importantly, DoiT helped us to build scalability into our systems. As a result, we’re simply able to handle a lot more users than before, which will enable us to grow and scale without any issues.”

Fixing issues twice as fast, while reducing the overall cloud spend by 10%

While serving more customers, Mentech is also operating much more efficiently. “Thanks to close support from DoiT and AWS, we managed to lower our AWS hosting costs by 10 %, and we’ll probably be able to reduce it even more,” says Smits. And because time is money, too, the savings continue in the productivity department: “We are also able to fix issues twice as fast as if we had done it on our own. This enabled our team to focus more time on value-generating work and other projects.”

There’s no shortage of projects in the works at Mentech, and HUME is only the beginning. Besides bringing their stress recognition technology to more vulnerable people and caregivers around the world, Smits and the Mentech team have an even broader vision for the tool.

“Insights into stress levels can be valuable for many other use cases, so the HUME will be able to help a lot more people in the future,” says Smits. “People with autism, people experiencing mental health issues, or those dealing with burnout, for example, could use the HUME to better understand and manage their behavior.”

What's next?

Mentech will continue its collaboration with DoiT, a partnership Smits calls “one-of-a-kind”. “With their knowledge and expertise around AWS and other technologies, DoiT has been, and continues to be, an essential partner for Mentech,” says Smits. “This collaboration is a perfect illustration of how two companies can enhance each other’s strengths through joint efforts. DoiT has helped us to provide better solutions at a lower cost, which is critical to our mission to give vulnerable people a voice.”

Reon Smits, co-founder and CTO, Mentech
“With its expert knowledge and expertise for AWS and other cloud technologies, DoiT has been, and continues to be, an essential partner for Mentech. It helped us to provide better solutions at a lower cost, which is critical to our mission to give vulnerable people a voice.”

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