Pain-recognition app cleared for sale here and in Europe

An Australian innovation using artificial intelligence to analyse facial expressions to determine pain has been given regulatory clearance here and in Europe.

An Australian innovation using artificial intelligence to analyse facial expressions to determine pain has been given regulatory clearance here and in Europe.

Philip Daffas, chief executive of ePAT, the Australia-listed company formed to bring the product to market, said the app assessed and monitored pain in people who could not verbalise what they were experiencing, such as people with dementia or communication difficulties.

“There are lots of wellness apps but few have gone through a clinical trial process and been validated for performance and accuracy, and therefore registered as a medical device,” Mr Daffas said.

The chief executive, who previously worked at Cochlear, said ePAT’s device was Australia’s first regulated pain assessment app. “The healthcare professionals can trust it because it has been tested and given regulatory approval,” he said. “If we didn’t have the regulatory approval, I don’t know if the healthcare professionals would trust us.”

The company, which now has approval for its device in 30 per cent of the market, will roll out the app in Australia this year, in Europe next year and then aim to have US regulation by 2019.

Mr Daffas said the commercial model would be based on a subscription model that fitted with the needs of the enterprise market, such as carers in aged-care centres and in the home.

The device is initially aimed at the dementia market, which amounts to about 400,000 people in Australia and 50 million people worldwide. The company has spent nine months working on the clinical studies and regulatory approval, and is now working on an app for children.

A peer-reviewed study concluded that ePAT had proved validity and reliability for dementia ­patients.

Mr Daffas said pain assessment was often a manual process, meaning it was also subjective.

“People with dementia often can’t report pain or, if they can, they can’t report it ­accurately,” he said. “Our device is a more objective method, using artificial intelligence to assess and then monitor the pain.”

The commercialisation strategy seeks to generate revenues from a range of sources but it primarily plans to sell via software enterprise partners and ­direct to business. It will also sell direct to consumers via the App Store and Google Play.

Published in the The Australian, by By: Sarah-Jane Tasker, Health, 19 July 2017 

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