Evolutions in Data Visualization for Health Care Research

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A variety of data sources provide a wealth of information for health care researchers – so much that understanding that data can be difficult. In addition, research team members each have their own areas of expertise, which may not include experience with raw data.  They all need tools they can understand to help them assess the data. 

PRO-CTCAE Data Visualization 

Researchers at RTI Health Solutions (RTI-HS) are taking on the challenge of analyzing and reporting Patient-Reported Outcomes version of the Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events (PRO-CTCAE) data. 

In research that was presented at ISPOR, Methods for reporting the Patient-Reported Outcomes version of the Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events (PRO-CTCAE) data in cancer clinical trials, researchers proposed two sets of analyses for baseline and postbaseline data. The methods provide a simple, systematic, visual solution for the presentation of patient-reported outcomes safety data in oncology trials. They make it easy to identify symptoms that matter to patients and are responsive to treatment. 

Electronic Medical Records Visualization

RTI-HS researchers recently presented work on the visualization of electronic medical records (EMR) at SESUG. The resulting paper includes SAS®-based ready-to-use templates. These particular adaptations help visualize data to support exploratory analysis and variable derivation in health care research. 

This visualization is especially helpful to research team members have differing areas of expertise, such as statisticians, epidemiologists, and clinical practitioners, who may not have experience with EMR data. The tools offered by the RTI-HS researchers bring the data together in a way that can be more easily understood by all stakeholders, enabling greater discussion and understanding.

The templates include a Patient Profile Plot, Population Profile Summary, Treatment Profile Plot, and Drug Use Summary. 

  • The Patient Profile Plot allows multiple patient displays that retain common features. 
  • The Population Profile Summary is useful for selecting time windows and evaluating algorithm development. Records are benchmarked to an index event in both temporal directions. 
  • The Treatment Profile Plot is a visual representation that highlights possible combinations of therapy for two different drugs prescribed alone or in combination.
  • The last template is a Sankey diagram that has been adapted to visualize health care research data. The Drug Use Summary allows for visualization of changes over time by group. It is a sophisticated representation that can take practice to master but is a simple process once established.

See the entire paper, including templates, sample data, and examples of how the data would appear using the methods adapted by RTI-HS researchers: Visualization of patient electronic records to support exploratory analysis and variable derivation of categorical data

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