Using Innovation and Design to Advance Patient Care

Designing for social change is something Distinguished Professor David Yager works toward as director and founder of the Innovation and Design Laboratory (IDL) and as executive director of the Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture (CADVC). Now that Yager is the recipient of the University System of Maryland's (USM) 2008 Wilson H. Elkins Professorship, he is one step closer.

Working with the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions (JHMI) and Erickson School, Yager and the IDL team are constructing solutions to address the complex challenges in pediatric medicine. Under Yager’s leadership, the team at IDL develops a wide array of solutions to improve safety, patient care, communications and family well being. Yager believes that bringing the design process into the healthcare setting can positively influence not only the individual patient experience but the overall quality of medical care. An artist, designer, and innovator, Yager continuously researches and oversees prototype design and the production of new technologies and processes to simplify and make more efficient and more effective the healthcare process and delivery to improve patient health outcomes.

“For years the mantra has been, how will technology challenge older adults?” he said. “My mantra is how technology can be a source of stimulation, such as stimulation of the brain or a tool to help exercise the aging body.”

Yager credits his Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture (CADVC) as the underpinning of his interest. CADVC’s 20-year mission of exploring the social and cultural issues that are directly linked to visual culture has earned the Center great success. The IDL tackles similar social issues, keeping the future in mind.

“Design will be one of the most important disciplines in the next 20 years,” he said. “In business, design is a critical success factor in differentiating companies and products in a competitive marketplace. Design can contribute to solutions that directly address social problems. Design impacts business that positively affects our global market and economy. Design thinking helps you consider more deeply and more broadly the many dimensions of the global questions that must be addressed.”

The principle IDL partner alongside Yager is George Dover, M.D., the pediatrician-in-chief and given professor of Pediatrics at JHMI. Dr. Dover finds the collaboration mutually beneficial.

“The collaboration with David Yager and the UMBC graduate students has opened up a whole new area of innovation and problem solving in the Children's Center,” Dover said. “Our rounds have a completely new dimension, which has led to some real advances in communication, in patient care and in the area of design.”

And now that Yager has received the USM Elkins Professorship, he feels even more progressive advancements will be made.

 “This support will give us the opportunity to hire students, purchase more equipment, tools and software, and our discoveries will be realized sooner with this award.”

Yager’s artwork can be viewed as part of the Visual Arts Faculty Exhibition 2008 from Thursday, October 30, to Saturday, December 13. The event was organized by the CADVC and features work from UMBC's visual arts faculty and staff including the areas of film, video, animation, photography, graphic design, print media, installation and performance.

The Elkins Professorship honors those with a record of achievement in a particular discipline, evidence of achievement beyond one’s discipline, a demonstrated desire to lead students and the ability to pursue opportunities beyond the USM level. For more information on the USM Wilson H. Elkins Professorship, go to  

To learn more about the Innovation and Design Laboratory, go to