Pain assessment app enters hospitals

3 minute read

An Australian-made app which uses AI to measure pain in non-verbal or not lucid patients will be integrated into hospital medical records.  

In its first move into hospitals, Australian smartphone app PainChek has partnered with technology provider InterSystems to integrate the tool with electronic medical records (EMRs).

PainChek is the world’s first smartphone-based pain assessment and monitoring app.

It uses AI and facial recognition to detect pain in patients who cannot accurately self-report, such as patients who are non-verbal, not lucid, or experiencing cognitive decline.

It works by using the smart phone camera to look at the patient’s face, and then uses AI to identify muscle movements indicative of pain.

The app then provides a framework to record pain related behaviours. It generates a pain score and records the result, supporting ongoing monitoring of the effectiveness of pain management interventions and consistency in pain reporting.

Already contracted for use in 1300 aged care facilities in Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Singapore, the technology is used to assess the pain levels of patients who have communication barriers due to conditions like dementia.

According to an 18-month study conducted in a UK aged care facility, use of the app led to a 20% reduction in the use of benzodiazepines and antipsychotic medications. The app helped carers identify that certain patient behaviours were due to pain, not psychosis.

The app’s first move into hospitals aims to support triaging and better communication between clinicians. According to a statement by PainChek, pain management issues often delay the release of patients or result in readmission, and better pain management may help mitigate these factors.

PainChek CEO Philip Daffas said in a statement that the partnership would eventually help the technology move into new markets beyond hospitals and aged care.

“Partnering with a global leader like InterSystems accelerates our entry into new markets like the hospital sector,” Mr Daffas said.

“We know from experience in aged care how important it is to connect to EMR systems. InterSystems IRIS for Health makes that easy and scales up our capacity to connect into hospitals and, in the future, other sectors like home care that would also benefit from easy to use and reliable pain assessment.”  

Mr Daffas said by integrating into an EMR system, pain assessments can be automatically entered into a patient’s record. And partnering with InterSystems means that PainChek can be converted to the HL7 and FHIR industry standards. This will enable the app to scale up and move into other areas such as home care, he said.

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