Healthcare Design Magazine, November 2015
By Anne DiNardo
Ninety percent—that’s the amount of time Americans spend indoors, from homes to offices to retail spaces and healthcare facilities, according to Mayo Clinic.
To better understand how this reality can affect human health and well-being, the clinic and Delos, a New York-based wellness real estate and technology firm, have partnered to open the Well Living Lab, a 7,500-square-foot research center on Mayo’s Rochester, Minn., campus.
Richard Macary, president of Delos, says the collaboration started as a way to figure out how the existing body of laboratory research on things such as indoor air quality or the effects of light on health would be applicable in the real world.
“We realized there were a lot of unanswered questions,” he says.
The organizations announced the partnership last year and opened the lab this fall. “We started to talk about how to do this as a study that was publishable,” he says. “We didn’t want it to be a ‘regular lab’ where it was isolated to one factor. We wanted it to be more real world.”
To that end, the facility is set up with such elements as remote control monitors, room sensors, and wearable technologies, as well as a flexible building design that allows rooms to be reconfigured to simulate offices, classrooms, and homes. There’s also an on-site data center for crunching all the environmental, wearable, and biometric feedback.
Starting in early 2016, live test subjects will start occupying these spaces to allow real-time studies of such things as air quality, temperature, and noise levels.
Barb Spurrier, director of the Center for Innovation at Mayo Clinic, says the lab’s initial plans don’t call for simulating a patient room or doctor’s office, but that there will opportunities to apply the lab’s learnings to the industry.
“Healthcare environments are so stressful and have so much going on,” she says. “We really think some of the principles we’ll be learning about in terms of the healing environment and where people live, work, and play could be applied to smarter development of more traditional spaces like hospitals.”