As the number of dentists in the U.S. continues to grow, dentistry has become more competitive than ever before. How can you differentiate your practice to attract and retain both patients and employees? You might be surprised at what a role office design can play.
The look, feel and functionality of your dental office can make a big difference in enhancing your practice’s image and increasing patient loyalty. It can also boost employee satisfaction and even improve practice efficiency. (Did you know the average office worker loses 86 minutes a day to distractions, and just 63% of U.S. employees say their workplace allows them to work productively?)
In this post, we’ll discuss:
- How to decide if your dental office needs a makeover
- Dental office design trends
- How to plan your remodel
Signs your dental office needs a makeover
Your office may need a makeover if…
- It looks dated. You may not even notice your office is out of date, so try asking impartial outsiders.
- It’s wearing out. When patients see worn carpets or sagging waiting room chairs, they start to wonder if your equipment is broken down, too.
- It’s hindering your productivity. Dental technology has changed immensely in the past few decades. If your office hasn’t been updated since the ’90s, the layout may not fit today’s tools efficiently.
Ask employees what they like and dislike about your office design. Tell patients you’re considering remodeling and ask what changes they’d like to see. You can do a survey via your email newsletter or social media pages. You never know what might be driving patients crazy.
Dental office design trends
Designing a stylish office space can create a place where both patients and employees look forward to spending time. Here are some dental office design trends to consider.
- Just like home: Dental offices are increasingly incorporating residential design trends. For example, instead of hard-backed chairs in a fluorescent-lit, sterile environment, waiting rooms now beckon with comfortable sofas and cozy fireplaces. (Check out these trending interior paint colors to inspire you.)
- I sense a theme: You can also use a “theme” as the basis for your dental office décor. For example, this small-town dental practice used rural touches such as reclaimed wood to echo its rustic heritage. If your practice is in a beach city, incorporate a surf theme. A pediatric dentistry practice could use a video game or carnival theme.
- Back to nature: Try incorporating elements such as natural light, live plants, water features and soothing colors found in nature (beige, blue, green). This is a timeless design style that also helps create a relaxed mood.
- Go for the glamour: Increasingly, dental practices are going for a high-end, luxurious look in interior design and décor. Think of an upscale hotel lobby and you have the right idea. (Here are some ideas to keep patients happier in your waiting room.)
- Spa day: Patients may actually look forward to their appointments when your office feels like a spa. Create a soothing, relaxing environment by using calming colors, soft textures, and relaxing background music to put patients at ease.
Dental office design considerations
When planning your office makeover, consider these practical points:
- Traffic flow: Do patients and hygienists have to traipse back and forth through treatment areas to take X-rays or gather equipment? If your current layout isn’t ideal, plan for changes that will enhance traffic flow and allow for more efficient work. (Here are some other ideas to improve office efficiency.)
- Adequate space: Cramped treatment areas make patients feel uncomfortable. They also make it hard to raise and lower dental chairs, bring additional staffers in for consultations or move equipment in and out. Open-plan offices give you more flexibility to maneuver and allow for redesigns as needed.
- Patient privacy: Of course, your office shouldn’t be too open. Patients need to feel comfortable discussing payments or undergoing treatment. Get the best of both worlds by using tall partitions instead of walls and doors to separate and define spaces. This allows for privacy while still letting natural light in.
- Noise level: Excessive noise can rattle nerves, both for patients and dental employees. Keep noise to a minimum with strategic use of carpeting, wall coverings, window coverings and sound-absorbing ceiling panels.
- Lighting: Today’s technology allows you to vary the lighting throughout your office to suit each area’s mood and purpose. Use lower lighting in the waiting room, task lighting at the front desk and bright lighting in treatment areas.
- Team workspace: Does your team have adequate space to work out of sight of patients when needed? Incorporate both individual and group workspaces and meeting areas. (Remember, just because you call it the “morning huddle” doesn’t mean you have to squeeze everyone into a corner!) A cozy staff break room can reduce stress and give your team a place to relax.
As you plan and carry out your remodel, be sure to keep patients abreast of your progress. Use email newsletters, social media and your website to share photos and project updates. Lighthouse 360 makes it easy to manage photo galleries on your website, upload photos to Facebook right from your Lighthouse 360 portal and send targeted emails to patients.
Once your office makeover is done, encourage patients to review your new look. You can use Lighthouse 360 to request patient reviews and post positive ones to all of the major online review sites.