News & Analysis

MinQuest to acquire Australian medical research company ePAT

- April 14, 2016 3 MIN READ

Project development company MinQuest has today announced it is seeking to acquire Australian medical research company ePAT. MinQuest, which has in the past focused on the mining sector, is now turning its attention to pain management technology for dementia sufferers and young children.

MinQuest recently signed a binding Heads of Agreement with ePAT to acquire 100 percent of the company. This acquisition will fundamentally change MinQuest’s investment direction for the benefit of all shareholders.

Frank Terranova, chairman of MinQuest said, “The proposed transaction will provide our shareholders with exposure to the significant growth potential of the groundbreaking ePAT pain management technology.”

ePAT has developed an app to improve pain assessment in both dementia sufferers and young children who lack the ability to communicate with their carers or family members. The app is accessed via a smartphone and uses facial recognition technology and other indicators to provide a more objective assessment of pain.

ePAT’s technology utilises a smartphone’s inbuilt camera to capture brief video of patients. This video uses facial recognition technology that can be analysed in real time to detect the presence of micro-expressions that are indicative of the presence of pain.

Collected data is then combined with other pain indicators including vocalisations, behaviours, and movements that are all captured by the app operator. All data is analysed and feedback is given to back to the patient’s carer as an automatic calculation of pain severity score.

“The ePAT App is a significant advance on the current assessment methodologies and is globally unique as it is the first pain assessment tool to use facial recognition technology on a smart device for pain detection at the point of care,” explained Terranova.

The healthtech app comes out of extensive research and development conducted from Curtin University in Perth. The technology used to create the product has been in development for over three years.

Two versions of the app currently in development include one focusing on dementia patients and one for infants and toddlers. The first version will provide carers of patients with dementia with an accurate, simple to use, evidence-based pain assessment tool. The app will be available to residential aged care facilities, hospitals, healthcare professionals and home carers.

The second version of the app aims to assist with children who are too young to effectively communicate their wants and needs. ePAT anticipates the development of this version of the app will be conducted later this year to begin the process of registration in early 2017.

Both app versions have the aim of improving a patient’s quality of life, while also reducing the healthcare costs for patients, carers, and hospitals.

Terranova said, “The app’s ease of use means it will be suitable for use by family carers as well as professional carers and healthcare professionals.”

The app can be used in two ways – to detect and measure a patient’s pain and to determine the effectiveness of pain management treatment.

In Australia more than 1.2 million people currently care for patients with dementia, which costs our economy over $4.9 billion each year. By 2060 it is estimated that dementia will outweigh any other health condition.

Pain is a daily struggle for patients with dementia where at some point in time 85 percent of patients will experience different levels of pain. However in many instances these levels of pain go unreported due to the inability for patients to communicate effectively.

Tools currently used in the medical industry for pain management are poor and can have adverse outcomes. For example, behavioural disturbances that are wrongly assessed can lead to the prescription of inappropriate antipsychotic agents. Causing more harm than good in patients with dementia.

ePAT hopes that with the development of a new technology based application, the inappropriate use of medication will lower and the quality of life for patients like these will increase.

The first version of the app will be available for purchase through the Apple App store and the Google Play store to carers, healthcare professional and under licence through software vendors like healthcare facilities and hospitals.

MinQuest will issue 350 million shares on a pre-consolidation basis to the shareholders of ePAT for total acquisition. The company will also be looking to raise $500,000 to provide working capital and meet costs associated with the transaction.

At final completion of the acquisition MinQuest will be appointing three new directors to the MinQuest Board and continue its shift of focus into the healthtech sector.

Image: Jeff Hughes, professor at Curtin University. Source: Supplied