Growing up in a small town, 2020 Outstanding Innovation in HIT Award Winner Jay Alberts, PhD, realized early on that healthcare access was a key issue for many Americans. The same for rural America as they are for urban America, barriers to access are ever-present, and the deltas in care quality that they create must narrow. This perspective has kept him grounded in his research and commercialization pathways throughout his career. Dr. Alberts is rarely afraid of failure, using it as an opportunity to quickly pivot in a more fruitful direction. Rather than derail his progress, Dr. Alberts views failures as learning experiences to inform and accelerate his successes.
In Dr. Alberts’s research, this passion for remedying lack of access continues to be his north star. His belief that value is derived from scaling care to reach those outside and unable to benefit from traditional care paths has influenced projects like his concussion-detection application. The app, which uses a quantifiable neurological exam scoring system to highlight discrepancies between a player’s baseline and post-injury score, is now available for players in the National Football League (NFL). And while a tremendous accomplishment, it is not even close to Dr. Alberts’s final goal. The real goal is the deployment of this technology to everyday Americans – like those urban and rural high school athletes that lack healthcare access. Bringing Cleveland Clinic-quality care to these players for a swift transition back to the classroom? Now that's success.
Building on the momentum of his concussion application, Dr. Alberts has evolved his research to help Parkinson’s patients. Leveraging AR/VR technology to place individuals into a virtual world, Dr. Alberts has created a model through which a clinician can observe patient function in everyday situations. The novelty, however, lies in his coupling of the alternate reality model with a physical omnidirectional treadmill – allowing patients to move around several axes as they would in a real-life scenario. Dr. Alberts and his team are creating many scenarios that mimic activities of daily living (ADL), such as shopping at the grocery store. Dr. Alberts believes observation of patients via this method will allow for a comprehensive view of the patient’s condition and guide the plan of care according to an individual’s needs.
Though today the treadmill and its affiliated technology is expensive, the belief is that with the help of the gaming industry, price will be driven down – creating opportunity for adoption by smaller hospitals. Given that less than 50% of Parkinson's patients nationwide have access to a movement disorder neurologist, increased distribution of said technology holds great power – broadening access and bridging the gaps in specialty care, without adding expense for small care centers.
A serial researcher who drives forward with his passion for access in mind, Dr. Alberts was selected as 2020’s winner of Cleveland Clinic’s Outstanding Innovation in Health Information Technology (HIT) Award. Regularly evolving his innovative thinking, Dr. Alberts will undoubtedly continue to create impact for patients across the country.