Evidence-Based Medicine

The growth of systems that capture and store electronic medical records is creating greater opportunity for historical data to inform the decision-making processes of physicians. This field of research is known as evidence-based medicine. RENCI is involved with several different knowledge-based medical research projects in efforts led by Senior Research Scientist Ketan Mane.


Kenneth Gersing, M.D., medical director of information services at Duke University Medical Center, directs work on an electronic medical record system (EMRs) known as MindLinc. MindLinc-EMR is a widely used behavioral health EMR system containing data from more than 2.1 million patient encounters, making it the largest anonymous warehouse of psychiatric patient data in the U.S. RENCI is collaborating with Gersing’s team to design a prototype clinical decision support tool called VisualDecisionLinc. The work focuses on three initiatives:

  • Developing the best processes for selecting comparative populations. The researchers will use demographic information, case histories and diagnoses, and treatment outcome data to help clinicians select comparative populations from the database that are most relevant to their patients.
  • Creating a visual user interface to help in selecting the best treatment choices. Clinicians need to be able to find the important information in their datasets quickly and view data in a way that is easy to analyze. Visualization and visual analytics techniques will be used to represent data and help reduce information overload caused by dealing with large volumes of data.
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of VisualDecisionLinc in preparation for a larger-scale research implementation.

Project Team

  • Ketan Mane (Project Lead)
  • Phillips Owen
  • Charles Schmitt
  • Kirk Wilhelmsen



  • Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)
  • Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) program
  • National Science Foundation (NSF)


Epilepsy EHRs

Clinicians who treat patients with epilepsy often see them after a medical event such as a seizure. But to effectively treat the condition, they need information about the patient’s entire disease history. Electronic health records (EHRs) contain information about the frequency of seizures, drugs, dosages, side effects and hospital stays, but sifting through stacks of paper records is impractical and often impossible for busy physicians. To make patient profiles easy to access and analyze, RENCI is developing a visual dashboard that allows the clinician to view a patient profile in an easy-to-understand visual format. The dashboard includes longitudinal displays of information such as seizure events, medications, and side effects experienced. The clinician can overlay different types of data, making it easy to spot trends and find correlations between different variables, such as seizures and medications or medications and side effects.

The RENCI team is building its prototype epilepsy treatment dashboard using a sample of data from collaborators at Boston Children’s Hospital (affiliated with Harvard University Medical School) and Duke University Medical Center. The research team’s long term goal is to be able to display real patient medical records on the dashboard, using mobile devices suitable for use in medical clinics, such as iPads.

Project Team

Ketan Mane