Creating a beautiful, comfortable and relaxing dental office reception area will have an impact that cannot be overstated. If the office design and décor are ideal, they will be a constant source of internal marketing. When designing and decorating my offices, I took pains (and believe me it was painful at times) to create a peaceful, warm and inviting setting. I wanted to avoid the typical medical office paradigm with its sterile look, feel and smell.
Patients often comment that they are put at ease by the more comfortable environment of a dental office that looks like a well-decorated home. A traditional medical office with its white walls, uncomfortable waiting room furniture, sign in sheet and sliding glass window through which a stressed receptionist barely acknowledges people sets patients up to feel even more apprehensive prior to treatment. Children who may fear the physician or dentist are put at ease by a waiting room that does not look like other medical offices and that provides activities for them while they wait. This also makes their parents happy.
My dental office reception room contains paintings, a small water fountain, faux painted walls, comfortable furniture from Pier One, an open arch into the front office area and several large plants. Skylights are positioned above the operatories so patients can relax while regarding the clouds, rain, birds and airplanes. Arched walkways welcome the patient down each corridor. A colleague in Washington State has a beautifully landscaped area of large flowers, bushes, plants and a waterfall outside his operatory windows. Strategic placement of multiple windows helps reduce the feeling of confinement associated with the typical medical office aura.
When contemplating your office design and décor, consider all of the senses. Reducing or muffling the sounds of dental equipment, lab devices and unhappy children can ensure a calming environment for waiting patients. Installing speakers throughout the office will provide the patients with a distraction for their ears. Using potpourri, candles, fresh baked bread or cookies will help overpower the medical smell that permeates so many offices. Providing a variety of current magazines, photography albums, procedure brochures, children’s books and games, and a before and after picture album serves to entertain patients while they wait. You can win patients for life simply by providing an environment which shows them you care.