Design Fellowship

"Better Health, Less Spending"

The Clinical Excellence Research Center (CERC) design fellowship provides an opportunity to become an expert in value-based health care delivery innovation.

Working as a multi-disciplinary team, fellows develop a solid foundation of design thinking for healthcare, gain experience developing innovative care models, and work directly with health system leaders and industry/business leaders.

Through a disciplined process based in human centered design methodology, the teams design new care models for a health condition associated with substantial disability and health spending. The design goal is an innovative health care design to maximally lower population-wide health spending while improving quality and experience of care.

Innovative, value-driven care models are designed through our fellowship program and then implemented in numerous partner healthcare systems/sites in subsequent years.  

In addition to the dissemination of new care models from CERC, we are also proud to be graduating change agents for value driven healthcare. Graduates from the fellowship have gone on to:

  • Pursue research careers in universities
  • Assume leadership positions in healthcare delivery systems
  • Work in industry or professional services firms
  • Help launch venture based healthcare startups


Application Process

Creating Leaders in Healthcare

The CERC Fellowship provides the opportunity to work closely with national healthcare leaders through faculty members, guest lecturers, mentors, exposure to CERC partners, and the ability to complete observations at distinguished sites.

Fellows are guided by Arnold Milstein, MD, MPH, Director of CERC, Professor of Medicine and national leader in the acceleration of clinical service innovations that improve the societal value of health care, and Terry Platchek, MD, Clinical Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine and a national leader in healthcare performance improvement. Additional faculty and mentors are drawn primarily from Stanford’s schools of Medicine, Engineering, and Business and from a collaborating health economic research center at Harvard Medical School.

Fellow teams employ a design and prototyping methodology that includes:

  • Intensive introductory training in design discipline and in the clinical and economic features of the target conditions and service types
  • Intensive observation of how care is delivered for these conditions
  • Identification of poorly-met patient and clinician needs, as well as the societal need to lower per capita health spending safely
  • Exposure to use of cutting edge information and communications technologies to support care innovation
  • Exposure to the care models used by today’s leaders on the value frontier
  • Preparation of conceptual and detailed designs for care innovations
  • Experience interacting with multiple health system leaders in multiple U.S. states
  • Support of clinical teams that pilot-test and refine care innovations
  • Preparation of abstracts and other public speaking
  • Preparation of publishable manuscripts


We seek early-career aspiring innovators from diverse backgrounds who have the potential to become leaders in the design of higher value healthcare.

Individuals with backgrounds in medicine, social science, behavioral science, management science, operations engineering or business are encouraged to apply. Applicants must have a terminal degree.

Successful applications will be able to show a strong interest and track record of improving value in medicine. 

How to Apply

We begin recruiting in November, applications can be submitted at any time and will be kept on file. Admissions are on a rolling basis; candidates are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.

To apply to the CERC Fellowship program, candidates must provide their C.V. and letter of interest, please send these materials to

Fellowship Timeline Overview

A Preview of the Next Eleven Months

We break the fellowship up into phases of curriculum. As you go through the fellowship year you will build on the previous phases as your move forward.

The curriculum consists of our CERC "bootcamp", a literature review, site observations, model input synthesis and model needs, concepts, care model iteration and cost modeling, IVPs, creating the model paper and implementation guides.

Phase 1: Bootcamp

CERC "Bootcamp" is an intensive 5-week lecture period. We have innovators, scholars, healthcare leaders, and nationally distinguished individuals speak for 90 minutes, with half of the session reserved for an open discussion. This serves as an introductory training in the design discipline and in the clinical and economic features of target conditions. 

Phase 2: Literature Review

Our literature review provides an opportunity for fellows to evaluate the most up to date clinical care publications in regard to their care model topics. While processing the literature, we ask our fellows to determine inflection points in the cost curve for their care model by determining costs and price for performance from frontier sites.

Phase 3: Observations

The observation phase allows our fellows to visit sites that have been identified from their literature review as frontier sites, as well as sites recommended by CERC leadership. Observations typically include 1-2 days where fellows are given the ability to fully emerge themselves into different organizations, and experience different approaches to delivering care.

Phase 4: Input Observation Synthesis and Model Needs

Fellows build on their experiences from bootcamp, and learnings from the literature review and observations to identify major needs of their models. These needs are then categorized to separate higher order from lower order needs.

Phase 5: Concepts

Concepts is our brainstorming phase. Fellows are asked to generate a large number of concepts. Concepts are then prioritized and then narrowed down to the top concepts. Our fellows then are asked to analyze their top concepts to determine their effect on the triple aim.

Phase 6: Care Model Iteration and Cost Modeling

Elements from top concepts are then incorporated into the care model. Model prototypes go through rapid iterations with feedback from mentors, CERC leadership, and outside stakeholders.  During this phase,  fellows will also complete cost modeling for their care model.

Phase 7: IVP

Irresistible Value Propositions (IVPs) allow fellows to pitch their care models to stakeholders that may pick up the care model. Fellows will gain experience preparing and presenting for IVPs through mock IVPs and coaching from CERC leadership.

Phase 8: Model Paper

Our fellowship provides fellows with resources and support to have a published paper on their care model. Fellows are asked to produce a "one pager" and a white paper. 

Phase 9: Implementation Guides

Fellows are asked to create an implementation guide for their care models. This guide should be everything the future pilot site would need to know to ensure the model is running correctly.

Design Fellowship FAQ

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