Innovation and Design Fellowship

The  Innovation and Design Fellowship trains fellows in how to think, conceptualize, and achieve healthcare improvement through advances in technology, systems  change, digital applications, and much more.

The Fellowship currculum is based on three pillars:

  • Biodesign
  • Design Thinking
  • Digital Health

Fellows may also augment study with activities in additional focus areas.

The fellow will learn to:

  • Understand and apply biodesign and design thinking processes to identify significant unmet health needs
  • Invent / evaluate new technologies and innovative solutions
  • Explore med tech innovation as a potential career pathway
  • Develop strategies for assessing and managing  the risks and challenges unique to med tech innovation
  • Hone critical thinking to understand the evolving digital health industry
  • Teach design thinking process to lay people and healthcare providers


Post Fellowship

After completing the Design and Innovation Fellowship, the fellow will be equipped to:

  • provide valuable insight and guidance to start-up companies
  • launch med tech careers
  • invest/consult in the life sciences fields
  • drive improvement and innovation within a large and complex health system

Innovation & Design Fellow John Dayton, MD

In 2021, Stanford Department of Emergency Medicine welcomed John Dayton, MD as the first Emergency Medicine Innovation Fellow.

The Innovation Fellowship comprises digital health projects; MBA coursework focused on healthcare, innovation, and entrepreneurship; and teaching shifts in Stanford’s Marc and Laura Andreessen Emergency Department. Dayton will also complete the Biodesign course at the Stanford School of Design to learn to apply the principles of design thinking in healthcare settings.

Prior to starting at Stanford, Dayton led physician innovation groups, advised healthcare startup companies, was involved with angel investing, and founded a medical education company. “I did not have formal business training,” he says, “and I was looking for a program that would help me become both a better physician and business professional. 

Fellowship director Ryan Ribeira, MD, himself a former Stanford Emergency Medicine Administration fellow, notes that the Innovation Fellowship is uniquely designed to adapt to the fellows themselves.

“For some, their primary goal is to be a medical innovator through industry, so we can serve as that portal and connection to Silicon Valley,” says Ribeira. “Some might want to become a medical director or a hospital operations officer, to be the person who helps bring industries innovations into the healthcare system. One of our fellows might become Chief Medical Officer of a health tech company. Or they could lead a patient-focused innovation investment firm, that is helping to power a lot of really valuable technologies for the healthcare system.”

As an Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Dayton will work with venture capital firms and health tech startups to learn how the innovation ecosystem works with hospitals like Stanford to bring the next generation of medical technology to the market. He is also part of the Stanford Innovation Partnership Evaluation Committee that builds collaboration between the Department of Emergency Medicine and healthcare companies and explores innovative digital tools to improve healthcare, documenting those findings in scholarly publications.

According to Ribeira, emergency medicine physicians are particularly well-suited to innovation because of a general sense of flexibility. “To innovate, you have to be willing to pivot and think creatively. So, this didn't work as we expected but let's not throw it all away - what are the good parts? How can we reshape this through design thinking, iterations, and rapid tests of change?”

In addition, Emergency Department physicians interact with specialists throughout the hospital from outpatient and inpatient to surgery to neurology, and that bird’s eye understanding of how the healthcare system works is key to innovation, says Ribeira.