A well-conceived design enhances your professional image, makes your practice more efficient, improves productivity, and ultimately builds profitability. Here are three ways that happens:
Your patients' impressions of your practice are shaped by how they perceive your staff and office environment, as they generally do not have the expertise to evaluate your clinical skills. One survey of 16,000 patients found that a fresh, pleasant-looking office is one of 12 things that patients want most in a dentist.1
"Like it or not, when people feel good about your office and your staff, they think you're a great dentist," says Fred Joyal, founder of 1-800-DENTIST and a leading expert on consumer dental marketing. "Look at [. . .] Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks, or Apple versus Dell. We spend based on packaging, and that goes for your dental office just as much as a bottle of Grey Goose."2
Good design reinforces a positive ambience, and the expense is more than offset by the value that good design creates.
David J. Ahearn, DDS, a practicing dentist and ergonomics consultant to dentists, who has worked with NASA and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says, "[Dental offices] can experience an immediate 30% increase in productivity once the improvement in workflow is complete."3 Over time, even higher productivity can be achieved as you and your staff become adept in the better layout.
Delineation of Public and Private Space
Effective interior planning ensures you have adequate areas for confidential communication, such as consultation rooms, personal offices, and zones of privacy at check-in and check-out desks. Such measures put patients at ease and improve two-way communication. Moreover, they are vital for complying with patient privacy provisions under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Violations of HIPAA can result in fines starting at $50,000, and settlements can demand costly corrections and remedial measures. Showing that you made significant effort in advance to uphold patient privacy is crucial to your defense. Employ smart design to give your practice a head start in avoiding problems.
1. What Patients Want. Inside Dentistry website. https://www.dentalaegis.com/id/2009/10/survey-12-things-patients-want-and-how-that-affects-how-they-choose-a-dentist. Published October 2009. Accessed June 21, 2016.
2. Five Steps to Making Your Dental Office Fun. 1-800-DENTIST website. http://www.1800dentist.com/five-steps-to-making-your-dental-office-fun/. Published 2007. Accessed June 21, 2016.
3. Learning: Ergonomics. Design Ergonomics website. http://www.desergo.com/learning/learning_ergo.htm. Published 2011. Accessed June 21, 2016.
Bruce Johnstone is a project consultant at Apex Design Build. For 25 years, Apex has helped dentists nationwide with a uniquely integrated approach to the design and construction process. Bruce may be contacted at (847) 660-3074. Visit apexdesignbuild.net for photography and video examples.