AI-powered pain assessment technology trialled at Edinburgh hospital

Edinburgh Royal Infirmary will be the first UK hospital to trial an AI-powered pain assessment tool to identify pain levels in patients who cannot reliably self-report their pain, such as those living with dementia.

The PainChek® app is the world’s first regulatory-cleared medical device for the assessment of pain. The tool, which can be installed on a tablet or smartphone, analyses micro-facial expressions indicative of pain to enable carers and healthcare professionals to identify the presence of pain when pain isn’t obvious, to quantify the severity, and to monitor the impact of treatment to optimise and evidence overall quality of care.

With contracts with over 1,200 aged care facilities globally, PainChek® has already been used to conduct more than 4 million digital pain assessments and is the most popular clinical digital tool in Australian aged care.

Building on this success of this technology, PainChek® is now being trialled across the hospital market, including at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, where a 12-week trial has commenced as part of a wider global partnership with InterSystems, a leading global provider of data management solutions.

The pilot aims to ensure PainChek® is a viable intervention for healthcare providers, has good interpretability, and can be easily applied in the hospital setting within time constraints. It will also validate a seamless integration with electronic medical record (EMR) systems, including the InterSystems TrakCare unified healthcare information system, where all pain assessments are documented and tracked.

The trial will also assess whether training of PainChek® is effective in enabling all pain assessors to use the technology and understand challenges and triggers of pain in people unable to communicate. The impact on clinical decision making will be obtained through a feasibility questionnaire.

Commenting on the pilot, PainChek CEO Philip Daffas says: “Pain management is a crucial aspect of patient care in hospitals. Sadly, so many of our most vulnerable in society experience chronic or acute pain, but this often goes undetected and under-treated in people with communication difficulties from medical conditions such as dementia.

“Poorly managed pain can lead to patient distress and impact the patient’s quality of life, subsequently increasing the length of the patient’s stay, impacting hospital costs and resources, and making patient readmission more likely.

“PainChek’s AI-powered pain assessment tool alleviates those challenges by enabling fast, accurate pain assessment in patients unable to communicate their pain, those who can, and those who fluctuate between the two. The technology aims to empower healthcare practitioners, placing a medical device in their pockets that provides them with a valid, reliable, and accurate means of assessing pain, without having to rely on verbal communication or traditional observational pain assessment tools. Not only this, but PainChek’s interoperability with leading EMR and medication management systems enables seamless and secure data sharing which is essential in the fast-paced hospital environment.”

“Bringing PainChek into the hospital market has been a longstanding goal of the company,” Philip adds, “and this marks an important step towards that goal.”

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