PainChek, developer of the world’s first smartphone-based pain assessment and monitoring application, is partnering with Ramsay Hospital Research Foundation (Ramsay) and Edith Cowan University (ECU) for a research project in Australia that will investigate ways of minimizing or stopping the progression of frailty in hospital patients.

Evidence to support the association between pain and frailty continues to grow. Pain prevalence increases with increased age, so too does frailty. As persistent pain can lead to functional disability, depression, and social isolation, it has been hypothesized that the burden of pain leaves older adults less capable to compensate, which increases the likelihood of frailty.

Led by Dr Rosemary Saunders from the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Edith Cowan University, a consortium 12 researchers from five Australian universities, is investigating different ways of minimizing or stopping the progression of frailty in hospital patients, through volunteer support interventions and optimal pain management facilitated by better pain assessment through the use of the PainChek device.

Dr Saunders said as part of the study, a group of frail patients at Hollywood Private Hospital in Western Australia would be given a volunteer support care plan tailored to their individual needs.

Pain assessment can be challenging amongst elderly patients who cannot verbalize their pain, such as those with advanced dementia. This can place this group of patients at risk of their pain going under detected and under-managed increasing their vulnerability to frailty.

PainChek, which is an observational pain assessment system includes a point of care application ( which utilizes artificial intelligence (facial recognition and analysis) in combination with smart automation, to provide a valid, reliable and accurate means of assessing pain has been included in the study to address this problem.

The researchers will determine the effectiveness of the nurse-led volunteer intervention program, the use of PainChek plus the use of the two methods combined.

Work on the two-year study is underway. Positive findings could be used to guide the implementation of nurse-led volunteer programs and pain assessment interventions across other Ramsay hospitals.

ON THE RECORD

Dr Saunders said: “It was a timely and important research project given the ageing population not only in Australia, but globally and growing challenge for health services.”

“Bringing PainChek into the local and global hospital market has been a longstanding goal of the company, and this marks an important step toward that goal. We expect that a successful outcome from this research will provide for excellent opportunities with groups such as Ramsay and provides us a high-quality case study we can demonstrate with other potential customers,” said Philip Daffas, CEO of PainChek.

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