Open Innovation Call for Healthy Ageing Concepts

Published Dec-05-13

Pop-up Wellness lounges and a reboot to doctors’ inpatient bedside visits are two of the winning concepts of a global healthy ageing challenge.

Mayo Clinic, United States

The Story:

Open Innovation Call for Healthy Ageing Concepts Sadly for us mere mortals there’s no such thing as an elixir of immortality, but that doesn't stop people from looking for solutions to keep us healthy and active for as long as possible.

In 2013, the Mayo Clinic issued a global open innovation challenge on the OpenIDEO platform. It tasked participants to think of new ways to maintain well-being as we age.

The contest comes at a critical time in our history. According to the UN report on World Population Ageing 1950-2050, by the middle of the 21st century the global population of older people will exceed that of younger people for the first time:

“Population ageing is unprecedented, without parallel in the history of humanity. Increases in the proportions of older persons (60 years or older) are being accompanied by declines in the proportions of the young (under age 15).”

Challenge Brief

The challenge brief asked participants to consider different stages of life from our 20s all the way through to old age. It pointed out that the choices we make when we are younger affect us as we grow older. The audience was also reminded that old age doesn't have to be a slow decline into decrepitude and nursing homes.

To prompt creative minds to come up with solutions the brief posed a series of questions such as:

“How might we activate people who are passive towards their health to become active in making healthy behaviour choices?”

“What economic, cultural, social or environmental levers can we pull to help people have a happy and satisfying experience as they age?”

Creative Sparks

During the dynamic two month submission period 133 ideas were received. Following bouts of brainstorming, feedback, prototyping and refining of solutions six winners were eventually chosen.

The way open innovation works among the OpenIDEO community is that every challenge starts with a big question and challenge brief. Then tools, case studies and relevant materials are shared to help participants understand more about the topic.

The concepting phase is next, during which time selected themes are highlighted to provoke more meaningful discussions. Community members submit ideas and spark off each other. The best concepts are short-listed for the community to help strengthen. Finally the challenge sponsor and OpenIDEO select the winners.

Among the winners of this particular challenge were:

More than just a doctor’s visit, a bridge to wellness: reshaping a doctor’s visit to a person’s hospital bedside to include a wellness team of medical students and senior volunteers. The team would serve patients by being on hand to discuss anything and everything including nutrition, prevention and emotional issues such as depression.

Pop-up Wellness Lounge & Coordinator Supporting Healthy Communities: these are Wellness lounges that could be located in vacant stores or community places such as libraries. Senior citizens would meet and learn more about taking care of health. The co-ordinator would devise programming for the space and be on hand to answer any health-related questions.


With the challenge over, the hope is that the concepts are implemented and take on a life of their own outside of the IDEO community. They are all ‘shareable, remix-able and reusable’ by anyone.

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