Tis 9 aug / År 40 / Nr 3 2022

Improving quality of life for patients with chronic pain using a digital tool

Improving quality of life for patients with chronic pain is the main goal for the start-up company PainDrainer in Lund. For healthcare at large, improving quality of life by introducing changes that can in turn make pain more manageable and predictable will undeniably cut costs. It is in other words a win-win situation for everyone.

Erik Frick, CEO, Paindrainer

What is so interesting is that PainDrainer is not a treatment nor a drug. It is a medical device for self-management, in the form of an app based on artificial intelligence, enabling patients to manage their long-term pain by mapping out daily activities that can reduce their pain levels or at least keep them stable. Since pain and daily activities are closely connected, better management skills for patients living with constant and long-term pain will improve their lives.

Looking at the problem

Professor Carl Borrebaeck at Lund University has been involved in the development of PainDrainer since day one. He has over the years gathered a lot of knowledge about patients living with long-term pain, most often related to cancer.

To put things into perspective, little statistics are required. Every fifth swede lives with long-term and often untreated pain. Of all patients living with chronic pain, only about 1,5 – 2 per cent ever get to see a pain specialist and the cost to society is annually over 90 billion sek.

“Even when patients get to see a pain specialist there is usually few alternatives for them, and that is because pain is so individual and so complex. PainDrainer is trained on each individual patients own experience of pain and therefore the advice is completely patient-centric”, Professor Borrebaeck explains.

The most common therapy, aside from pain medication, is to log the patient’s daily activities, like a diary, and from that try to deduce what can cause a flair in pain levels and what can be done to keep them at bay. It is an impossible task for a patient, since there are so many variations of tasks during a day and the data becomes overwhelming, and most patients abandon the diary after some time.

PainDrainer removes the obstacle of self-assessments since all activities that are logged are analysed with a proprietary Artificial intelligence model and the results show what causes pain and what can be done to keep it under control. The PainDrainer app gets to know the patient and after only a week it can provide accurate and completely individual information that can help the patient improve their quality of life.

The solution is a patient-centric approach

The development of PainDrainer has been facilitated by Maria Rosén Klement, a research coordinator at the Department of Immune Technology at Lund University. She is one of the co-inventors and her own experience from living with chronic pain has brought very valuable insider information on how it affects life in general.

“The problem in healthcare is that treatments are standardised despite the fact that all patients have such individual problems. With PainDrainer we created a tool that can coach me how to find my personal activity balance. This saves energy for activities that gives me improved quality of life.”, [MK1] says Maria Rosén Klement.

“We have developed a completely patient-centric approach. Our app is like a pain specialist and personal coach, available at all hours and easily accessible through the patient’s smartphone. This approach is completely unique to us”, says Carl Borrebaeck.

The global market for a medical device like PainDrainer is almost inapprehensible. The number of patients with long-term pain in the US and EU alone amounts to around 190 million.

Entering commercialisation phase

Newly appointed CEO Erik Frick will now lead the important commercialisation phase that the company is entering.

“We are the first in the world with our combination of clinical evidence in pain management and neural networks and this opens up completely new patient-centric possibilities in e-health. I see a huge business potential at the same time as PainDrainer can help millions of people living with long-term pain to increase their quality of life”, says Erik Frick.

With painDrainer we created a tool that can calculate for me how to find my personal activity balance. This saves energy for activities that give me quality of life.