New App Gives Patients a Voice in Pain Management

facial recognitionAustralian researchers are working on an app that can use facial biometrics to detect pain in hospital patients. Called the Electronic Pain Assessment Tool, or ePAT, the app was developed at Curtin University in Australia.

Pain is notoriously difficult to evaluate, given its subjectivity. This app is meant as a corrective for two particularly vulnerable groups of patients: Elderly individuals whose dementia renders communication difficult, and young children who can’t yet articulate what they’re feeling to healthcare providers. The system uses 3D facial mapping to perform real-time analysis of a patient’s face, instantly generating empirical data on the facial expressions generally associated with pain.

It isn’t the first such system to be developed. Earlier this year researchers with the UC San Diego School of Medicine announced a very similar system, also intended to track pain levels in child medical patients. But Prof. Jeff Hughes, a member of the Curtin team, says that theirs is the first to use a smart device to provide real-time facial biometric analysis. The team has started their own company, ePAT Pty Ltd., and is seeking investment for the startup.

As facial recognition technology comes under increasingly intense scrutiny while it becomes more widespread, the ePAT app provides an example of some of the inarguable benefits that the technology provides, and helps to highlight its more benign potential applications.

Source: Medical Xpress.

August 7, 2015 – by Alex Perala