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A new app helps assess the level of pain in people who go to the emergency room and contributes to improving their diagnosis

Painkey, developed by a team from the UPV and the General de València, uses AI techniques.

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A new app helps assess the level of pain in people who go to the emergency room and contributes to improving their diagnosis

Painkey, developed by a team from the UPV and the General de València, uses AI techniques


A team from the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV) and professionals specializing in pain and emergencies from the General Hospital of Valencia have developed Painkey, a new app that helps assess, using artificial intelligence techniques, the level of pain in people who They go to hospital emergency services and thus contribute to speeding up and facilitating their diagnosis.

Currently, three out of four patients who go to hospital emergency services are due to pain and, in addition, they tend to have higher return rates. In fact, between 40 and 50 percent of these patients visit this service several times a year, as reported by the academic institution in a statement.

"Painkey is capable of making distinctions between the reasons for alarm or severity, depending on the types of pain, and differentiating episodes of acute pain from those of chronic pain. In addition, it can distinguish patients with exacerbated chronic pain and those who usually go to the Emergency Department. It thus contributes to improving both patient care and the functioning of the emergency department," said Dolores López Alarcón, anesthetist and clinical head of the Pain unit of the General Hospital and promoter of the Painkey project.

Through a first questionnaire, Painkey allows for a comprehensive assessment of the pain of patients who come to the Emergency Department for this reason. These data are incorporated into the patient's medical history and the system proposes a circuit based on the urgency, the patient's fragility or risk of suffering an adverse event, and the complexity of each case.

In this way, the application helps to assess pain prior to triage. This has an impact on an increase in quality and safety because it will provide "basic" information that, on the one hand, will send an alert to triage so that the nurse can prioritize the patient and, on the other hand, will help to the physician during the care act.

"Painkey can be personalized to organize the emergency by care circuits, so that it is adapted to the needs of each patient. In addition, it will allow us to have an innovative pain assessment, because we will have a total assessment that can help us to avoid chronicities or detect patients at risk of suffering from chronic pain," said Dolores López.

For her part, Gema Ibáñez Sánchez, engineer from the health and well-being technologies group (SABIEN) of the University Institute of Information and Communications Technologies (ITACA) of the UPV, explains that this application is capable of suggesting a circuit of attention determined thanks to data analysis that combines process mining together with a mobile application.

"Now we are in a first phase in which the application will be piloted in the hospital for two months, which will allow us to ensure that everything works correctly. From there, we will begin a second phase that will serve to implement the circuits gradually," added Ángeles Celda, a nurse in the Emergency Department.

Thus, the tool will be implemented to assess the pain of all patients who come to the hospital's Emergency Department, although the objective is to also extend it to health centers that refer patients with pain to this service, and even to those who arrive for an emergency outside of health centers and are treated by mobile medical services.

Painkey was the winner of the Grünenthal Challenge of the VI Health Hackathon. Jesús Mandingorra Giménez, Fernando Alfonso Ríos, Eva Mateo Rodríguez and Ricardo Rubini, from the General Hospital of Valencia, and Carlos Fernández Llatas, also from the ITACA-SABIEN group of the Universitat Politècnica de València, have also participated in its development.