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Healthy Aging and Independent Living Lab

Photo of the Healthy Aging and Independent Living Lab

In collaboration with the Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging and Charter House, the Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation created the Healthy Aging and Independent Living (HAIL) Lab to support "aging in place" — helping seniors remain at home, healthy and independent.

HAIL is housed in Charter House, a continuing care retirement community in Rochester, Minn., with more than 400 residents. Charter House is physically connected to Mayo Clinic.

The approximately 5,000-square-foot lab is a place for discussion groups, workshops, observations and other research activities. There are two mock-up apartments for in-lab experiments simulating a typical home experience. Each apartment has a bedroom, kitchen, den and bathroom. The lab also includes a room for focus groups and observations, an assistive technology lending library, a design studio, and rooms for other experiments.

The entire HAIL Lab is equipped with the latest video recording technology and is able to capture activity live as well as digitally for review, analysis and documentation.

"The goal of the HAIL Lab is to apply the scientific method in a patient-centered fashion, helping seniors live longer, more independent lives," says Douglas L. Wood, M.D., medical director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation.

HAIL team at the Center for Innovation

Pioneering Mayo Clinic-style health care innovations, the Center for Innovation is staffed with design professionals, project managers and specialists from a wide variety of disciplines. It recruits team members with expertise in health care, information technology, communication, human factors engineering, education and other disciplines as needed.

The center's goal is to help innovative thinkers throughout the institution bring their ideas to life by collaborating with colleagues to keep the institution moving forward — testing new concepts and bringing them quickly into the practice.

"We're piloting new services, care models and technologies around such themes as connection and engagement, health and wellness, and home safety," says Barbara R. Spurrier, administrative director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation.

The HAIL team focuses on these areas:

  • The living environment. Designing tools and environments that promote health and safety for seniors while sustaining independence and improving quality of life.
  • Transitions. Investigating the planning and support necessary for seniors to prepare for and navigate major life transitions — including social, physical and emotional.
  • Caregiver support and education. Seniors are an underserved population who need targeted services and support that are better integrated into the care delivery system.

The center's team members have years of expertise in service design and research. They consult with Mayo specialists and others to support projects and provide medical and educational resources. Experts from the Mayo Clinic Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging and physicians from disciplines throughout Mayo may be consulted at any time.


HAIL uses design thinking as part of an innovation methodology and continuously refines these methods for the needs of the health care environment. It observes patients, interviews families and conducts traditional consumer research along with visualizing, modeling, prototyping and testing possible health care delivery solutions.

Mayo's decision to fuse design principles and the hypothesis-based scientific method is invaluable in helping it to uncover various human needs in the health care environment. The complement of design allows Mayo to think beyond what is normally done and serve as a translator for ideas and the possibilities of what could be.

Consortium model

The HAIL Lab is supported by a consortium of organizations that provides strategy, expertise and financial support.

Benefits for consortium members:

  • Ability to leverage one another's internal capabilities, organizational competencies and assets to deliver new customer value
  • Access to Mayo Clinic's experts in aging, service design, research and business development
  • Ability to test and prototype new products and services through access to Mayo's patient and caregiver populations
  • Access to research and organizational insights from experts and projects in the HAIL Lab
  • Consortium Week, in which the corporate sponsors are invited to meet with researchers to discuss findings and brainstorm solutions
  • Customized company day at the center with strategic brainstorming sessions
  • Invitation to centerwide lectures and special events


"We are hoping to collaborate with organizations that share a vision with Mayo to support this growing segment of our population — helping seniors remain at home, in a connected and safe manner," says Ms. Spurrier.

Corporations interested in learning more about the consortium should contact the Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation via email or at 507-266-0900.

  • Aug 28, 2013
  • ART304179