Protecting patient privacy at Luca Health

By Aimie Smith — Published

Luca Health, founded by Vasileios Nikolaou and Nick Greenhalgh, provides discreet mental health monitoring and prevention for professional and university athletes. Vas, a software engineer who has suffered from depression, and Nick, an ex-Professional Rugby player, are both advocates for mental health in sport. Powered by Kinde’s infrastructure, Luca Health offers a secure platform that empowers athletes to check in on themselves, understand how they’re feeling, and seek help when needed.

Understanding the stigma

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35% of elite athletes suffer from some type of mental illness, yet < 10% seek help. While there are a lot of companies focused on mental health, Vas realized that those companies were tailored to a white-collar employee lifestyle – where tools were either integrated into software like Slack or designed around employees that sit at a desk all day.

The whole thing with athletes is a little bit different. They don’t have the same lifestyle we have. They are out on the field every day training, they rarely sit in front of a computer, and they probably don’t even have a work email. They usually have a team of people organizing their whole life – what to eat, when to train, and when to sleep.

On top of this, these athletes are operating in a highly competitive environment where (unfortunately) showing any sign of weakness could negatively impact time on the field, contract negotiations, and brand deals. As much as we wish this wasn’t the case (thankfully some athletes are starting to use their public profiles to break this taboo), it is still embedded in the culture of sport.

Putting privacy first

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This stigma surrounding mental health in sports made Vas and Nick realize the importance of privacy and confidentiality when building an app for elite athletes. Not only did they need a way to allow athletes to be discreet, but they also needed a way to protect patient data.

We decided to use Kinde so each profile could be identified by an ID and no personal information would be linked to an athlete’s name - essentially using Kinde to build a moat. We’ll soon have famous athletes using our app and we can’t risk someone trying to hack us for that data.

If an athlete has recognized they may need help but doesn’t want to talk to their coaching team or management about it, they can use Luca Health. Created by researchers specifically for elite sportspeople, the app uses best-in-class screening tools and provides immediate access to an independent specialist should the screening flag an issue.

Building on Kinde

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Luca Health were exploring using Auth0 when they discovered Kinde via the Antler partnership. After playing around with both tools, they found that Kinde was best suited to their needs, and were excited about working with a fellow early stage company.

We loved the idea of a startup using another startup. We knew we’d be able to talk to the team and get personalized support and direct communication rather than being referred to a database of docs. With Kinde, we were able to quickly and easily implement an ID-based authentication that could protect our athlete’s data.

Soon there will be multiple stakeholders using the Luca Health platform – from athletes and management teams to independent doctors and psychologists – each requiring different levels of access across the app. To do this, the team is planning to use Kinde’s upcoming feature flags to manage access across the app for these various stakeholders.

Breaking the taboo

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The team at Luca Health believes that when managing physical injuries, prevention is always better than a cure and mental health should be looked at through the same lens. Early intervention is vital – someone shouldn’t need to hit rock bottom in order to receive mental health support. We’re proud to be helping them on their mission.