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AI and mobile technology aims to improve pain assessment

July 30, 2019

Person Centred Software has adapted smartphone and AI (artificial intelligence) technology to help care home providers accurately identify and measure levels of pain amongst those with reduced communication skills. The aim is to ensure accurate pain relief is administered and reduce the use of unnecessary behavioural medication.

Jonathan Papworth, co-founder and director of Person Centred Software explains said people who were unable to communicate their level of pain, such as those with dementia, could display bad behaviour and get angry.

“Behavioural drugs are commonly used in residential care to address challenging behaviour and most medical professionals believe that they are acting in the best interest of the individual, staff and other residents,” said Mr Papworth.

“But without the ability to understand if a person is in pain, that individual may be wrongly diagnosed. In addition, the medications to manage behaviour are normally far more expensive than those used for pain relief. So, if pain medication can resolve the pain and it results in better behaviour, it will improve the individual’s quality of life and benefit everyone involved.”

Person Centred Software has integrated smartphone pain monitoring and assessment technology within its mobile care monitoring application – currently used by more than 1,300 care homes for evidencing care interactions, electronic care planning and reporting.

Using the AI and facial recognition technology, carers can identify the presence and quantify the severity of pain when pain isn’t obvious. Jonathan says the information feeds seamlessly into the intelligent mobile application to deliver a joined-up solution for care providers to monitor pain, at the point of care, in people who are non-verbal.

Jonathan offers a cautionary note about the issue of pain relief and funding, citing Australia where an ‘Age Care Funding Instrument’ provides granular payments according to the severity of care required.  The more care someone needs, the greater the funding.

This has resulted in some care homes opting not to use the pain analysis application since if individuals are correctly medicated for pain and the result is improved behaviour, the care provider gets financially penalised.

“Government funding for social care is vital but it is essential that the financial incentives encourage and promote improved behaviour and the best of care,” he said.

A mobile app uses facial metrics to assess pain levels.

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