Every dental office is different and provides patient experiences in individual and authentic ways. But there are some things that should always be considered- if not mandated- for a successful practice. Here are a few “must-haves” every dentist office should strive to provide.
Maximize Communication and Space
Remember that whether you own your office or lease the space, you’re still paying for every square inch. So it’s important to use that space in the most efficient and productive manner possible, with no areas that are wasted. Your design needs to help your staff communicate both internally and externally with patients as well as labs and suppliers.
Working with a dental design specialist is extremely important when designing your new dental office space. These specialists can shed light on mistakes that others have made in the past (i.e. lack of storage, improper layout of cabinetry, lack of proper work surface area or space for doctors and assistants, etc.)
Equipment should be placed in ways that maximize the area while remaining functional, and essentials should be given to billing over non-essentials. Make sure that foot traffic is able to flow in a way that is as natural as possible so that your patients aren’t bumping into people on their way in and out.
Managing the flow of traffic throughout your space is another important aspect to keep in mind when considering the layout of your office. Designated and separate check in and check out areas improve patient flow while also allowing for better control of the overall patient experience. A private entrance for office staff is another crucial way to allow for smooth traffic throughout the space.
Check-in should be a friendly, quick and easy opportunity to greet old patients while also making a positive first impression on new ones. Front desk staff should be presentable and in good spirits, as they have the very important job of setting the tone for the entire appointment.
Check out should cultivate a sense of privacy, while also serving as an opportunity to send your patients off with positive feelings that will stay with them until it’s time to come back for their next appointment. Offering a small gift bag, including a toothbrush, floss, toothpaste, etc. adorned with your practice name/logo is a small, yet meaningful way of saying “thank you for your business,” while also maintaining a positive image in the minds of your patients.
You want your office to make a good first impression on incoming patients. Tasteful decor, wall photos and paintings, and mood lighting are all great ways to create a welcoming experience.
You can add greenery like potted trees or plants, or you can incorporate a well-placed artistic sculpture. For instance, if you go with a beach theme, you could hang paintings of the ocean on the wall, place a sand-potted bamboo tree in a corner or incorporate photography of the wonders of the deep sea.
Waiting Room with Ambiance
Create a waiting room with an ambiance your guests will enjoy and feel comfortable in. You can do this by playing mood music or music that fits the vibe of your chosen decor.
For instance, continuing with the beach theme, perhaps you might pump ocean waves through the sound system, or play feel-good island music. A little Bob Marley anyone?
This is a definite must. It’s an unavoidable reality that wait times can sometimes stretch beyond expectations. Comfortable seating can help keep patients happy and satisfied with their experience, especially if the clientele is from an older demographic.
This group oftentimes have health issues that make sitting for a long period of time difficult. This challenge is alleviated by providing chairs that are roomy and comfy. If you want to go a step beyond, make them ergonomic.
Add a Kid Zone
There’s nothing worse than having a long wait at the dental office coupled with kids who are bored. If you have space, adding a kid zone can help keep them entertained. You can provide toys there, books, board games and you can even incorporate tablets or gaming systems. Be creative and think like a kid!
Make patients feel special and important by recording notes about them, their families, and/or talking points they mention in their file and ask about those things during their visit. Patients love to feel both seen and heard, and this is an easy way to do that without sacrificing staff efficiency.
As you can see, these are simple yet essential “must-haves” every dentist office should try to provide for their patients. For many, seeing the dentist is often an anxiety-riddled experience. Whatever your office can do to alleviate some of those emotions and make your patients comfortable and relaxed is vital for success.