Andrew Jones having a PainChek assessment with the iPhone App

This article is taken from the industry report ‘Digital Transformation in Aged Care: 2022 and Beyond’. Download your copy here.

With an ageing global population, technology is critical in not only ensuring older people around the world have access to quality care, but also in improving efficiency of handling patient and resident needs.

Moreover, it has been shown that integrated care systems can reduce strain on hospitals by ensuring high-quality, holistic, and preventative care is provided in aged care and home care settings, thus preventing unnecessary hospital admissions. Below, we’re exploring the state of technology in aged care and the benefits of a technology-enabled cohort.

Rising uptake of technology

An ageing population and COVID-19 are two key factors influencing the adoption of technology across the aged care industry.

During the pandemic, the shift from face-to-face to online practices drove an increase in monitoring devices, mobile apps and intelligent accessories to support interventions in healthcare settings such as aged care facilities. Technology also made it easier for care providers to share data with other healthcare professionals, meaning a multi-disciplinary team (MDT) approach can now be facilitated where it may not have been before.

In addition, it is predicted there will be more than 1 billion people aged 60 and over globally by 2030, making up 12% of the world’s population1. With this shift comes additional pressures on governments and industry decision-makers to fund and implement more innovative and cost-effective ways to support quality care.

Spotlight on artificial intelligence

Care planning, tracking of clinical information to diagnose medical conditions, assessment methods, and treatment plans have all been enhanced through artificial intelligence-enabled automation, efficiency, and objectivity.

Some of the main uses for AI that have emerged in aged care include:

    • Remote monitoring: Several companies globally are utilising AI to automate resident and patient monitoring and reporting, and immediately alert carers to changes in activity and behaviours.
    • Medication development: AI is transforming medication discovery with the use of robotics and models of genetic targets, drugs, organs, diseases and their progression, safety, and efficacy.
    • Personalised treatment: Studies have suggested2 that AI can help discover which treatments are most appropriate for a patient based on various attributes and the treatment context.
    • Pain assessment: Tools such as PainChek® utilise AI to enable more consistent, efficient, and objective pain assessment.

With PainChek®, carers use their a camera-enabled smartphone or tablet camera to allow automated facial analysis to observe an individual’s face. The app then analyses micro-facial expressions indiciative of pain. This is combined with an objective binary checklist across other domains (vocalisation, movement, behaviours etc) that calculates an overall pain score and severity rating (no pain, mild pain, moderate pain, or severe pain).

Accreditation and compliance

A growing focus on quality of care standards and clinical reporting has led to a number of performance indicators being introduced or strengthened to ensure facilities meet minimum care requirements. Quality indicators including monitoring pressure injuries, physical restraint, unplanned weight loss, falls and major injury and medication management feature in audit requirements of aged care providers in Australia, with similar standards in other regions around the world.

The use of technology has improved the ease of recording and reporting of this data, allowing facilities to demonstrate appropriate record keeping to meet compliance requirements. It has been suggested that technological capability may be formalised as a criterion for aged care providers accreditation in the future3.

Clinical care outcomes

Multiple studies have shown that the use of technology leads to improved care outcomes within the residential aged care industry.

An independent evaluation found facilities that had implemented PainChek’s digital pain assessment app reported greater awareness and capability to identify pain behaviours associated with dementia.

Furthermore, pain assessment in these facilities had become more consistent and multidisciplinary (involving pharmacists, GPs, physios, dementia behaviour consultants). There were also multiple cases where facilities had limited or corrected medication usage as a result of accurate pain assessment, which in turn led to positive care outcomes and supported accreditation standards.

For example, Orchard Care Homes, a leading aged care provider in the UK, reported implementing PainChek® led to:

    • 100% increase in frequency of pain assessments
    • 50% reduction in distressed behaviours thought to be associated with pain
    • 50% increase in number of residents on regular pain relief as a result of newly identified pain
    • A decrease in the use and dosage of antipsychotics as a result of effectively managed pain

PainChek & VCare: Enabling Best-Practice Care

PainChek’s digital pain assessment app and VCare’s care management software facilitate best-practice processes, documentation, and reporting, therefore assisting in compliance with national standards.

PainChek® and VCare are fully interoperable, meaning pain assessments completed in PainChek® automatically flow through to VCare in real-time, and resident data recorded in VCare is automatically shared in PainChek®.

This integration removes any double-handling or duplication of data, ensuring care minutes are maximised for efficiency, whilst providing a comprehensive overview of resident data, leading to streamlined, best-practice pain management and high-quality care.

1WHO. (2019) Decade Of Healthy Ageing 2020-2030. Available at
[online] (Accessed 4 November 2022).
2Qiang et al. (2022) Personalised treatment for cognitive impairment in dementia: development and validation of an artificial intelligence model. Available at [online] (Accessed 4 November 2022).
3Taylor et al. (2021) Digital Innovations for Aged Care: Impacts in the COVID-19 Pandemic. Available at:
https://researchnow-admin. les/portal/37926687/SHTI_276_SHTI210010.pdf
[online] (Accessed 4 November 2022).

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