Andrew Ringer, MD, and the Art of Data-Driven Medecine

Doctor performs surgery on patient

Andrew Ringer, MD, at work. Photo by Ryan Kurtz

In the afterword of his best-selling book, Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance, Atul Gawande, MD, a professor at Harvard University, offers five suggestions* to medical school students for how they might make a difference in the world.

One of the suggestions is to “count something.”

“Regardless of what one ultimately does in medicine – or outside medicine, for that matter – one should be a scientist in this world,” Dr. Gawande writes. “In simplest terms, this means one should count something.”

By counting we acquire data, of course, and by acquiring data, we learn what works and what doesn’t. We learn what can heal, and what can destroy. We learn when to intervene, and when to step back.

Andrew Ringer, MD, a neurosurgeon with the Mayfield Clinic and Director of Endovascular Neurosurgery at the UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute, is one of our best counters, and hence one of our most productive scientists. He is currently principal investigator of five clinical trials, more than any neurosurgeon at UCNI.

He is also the founder of the Endovascular Neurosurgery Research Group (ENRG), a multi-institutional study group dedicated to improving patient outcomes through quality assurance database analysis. ENRG includes specialists from Cornell University, the Mayo Clinic, Rush University (Chicago), the State University of New York at Buffalo and Albany, and Vanderbilt University.

Dr. Ringer, 43, is dedicated to treating patients with neurovascular disease and to finding new neurosurgical techniques for the treatment of aneurysms, arteriovenous malformations, carotid artery disease and stroke. He is also committed to finding out when certain treatments should be used, and in whom. A recent clinical trial found, for example, that in a comparison of two stroke-prevention treatments (one surgical, one minimally invasive), patients under 70 had better results with one treatment, while those over 70 had better results with the other.

Since joining Mayfield in 2001, Dr. Ringer has completed more than 1,700 surgical and endovascular cases and has developed a national reputation in endovascular neurosurgery. He has authored or co-authored 24 peer-reviewed journal articles, 16 book chapters and 13 abstracts. In his role as Associate Professor of Neurosurgery, he has trained 14 medical residents and eight post-graduate fellows.

Dr. Ringer was among the rising young professionals included in the Cincinnati Business Courier’s Forty under 40 Class of 2003 and was included in the “Best Doctors” issue of Cincinnati Magazine in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

He graduated from Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., and received his medical degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He completed his residency in neurosurgery at the University of Cincinnati and earned a fellowship in endovascular neurosurgery from the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Known as “Andy” to his friends, Dr. Ringer is a Cub Scout den leader for his sons, has coached kids’ ice hockey for three years, and worked as a volunteer in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.

We thank him his public service, for providing excellent clinical care, and for counting.

* Dr. Gawande’s other suggestions to medical students in Better (Picador, 2007, New York): Ask an unscripted question. Don’t complain. Write something. Change
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