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At Archer Dental, we have over 100 years of combined dental office design, remodel, and construction experience. Our input can be traced to thousands of dental offices in the US. Before you jump into a new project, we are always here to give you a helping hand.
The Absolute Rules of Modern Dental Office Design
#1. Create an Upscale Setting
Whether you're building out a new office or remodeling an existing one, make it a priority to create an upscale environment. Anything you can do to make your patients feel at ease will improve the quality of their experience. Think of a calm, soothing environment. Your patients and your staff will thank you. Are you seeing both children and adults? Design a separate waiting room feature to incorporate both crowds. Patients like their privacy; many patients do not like being crowded in a waiting room with lots of overly excited children, just put yourself in their shoes. A separate play area with computers or a mini-movie theater is worth it's weight in gold! Even the high-volume insurance model practices will benefit from these features. A calm and composed environment will radiate to every facet of the office.
A calm, crisp and clean office reflects on the type of care a patient expects.
#2. Correct Space Utilization and Cabinet Design
The most successful modern dental clinics strategically and tactically avoid over-saturating the environment with “clutter,” since this can impede employee efficiency. Plus, it’s also an eyesore for patients!
Ultimately, the best advice here is simply to keep space utilization the top priority when planning your new dental clinic design or remodel. Both the space you use and the space you don’t use should be a deliberate decision, rather than something that was an afterthought. Design cabinets for the maximum amount of storage and functionality. Plan for every device you plan to use and have a space made for it. Don’t forget to leave some room for the future; you might want to add something later. Make sure to add enough power outlets for everything possible you might want!
#3. Patients Appreciate the Little Things
Offer patients (and those accompanying them) work spaces for their laptops and tablets. Be sure to have enough outlets (both plugs and USB) to charge devices. Having charging stations throughout the Waiting/Reception area is absolutely necessary in today’s world.
Provide patients with a beverage bar that offers a variety of refreshments, from filtered or bottled water, coffee etc. It’s a relatively minor investment that can deliver big results; especially for anxious patients who dread going to the dentist.
Choose exam room furniture that extends the warmth of the waiting room. For example, the seats should be comfortable and the lighting should not be overbearing. Finding the right balance between functionality and comfort is imperative.
An office with a hospitality bar ALWAYS scores more points with patients.
#4. Office Ebb and Flow
An ideal dental office design enables smooth traffic flows for both staff and patients. This maximizes efficiency, and avoids human “traffic jams” that can happen during busy hours. The following design is a perfect example of the “X” design principle. Try to group exam rooms as close as possible to your sterilization area. The shorter distance to walk will be appreciated by your staff after a long day. A bad design that looks pretty, but is non-functional will wear on your nerves quickly. We often find ourselves in various discussions with designers and architects trying to explain why these designs should be put over their Architectural or design styles. Remember it’s your office, you have to work and live there! Design your work area first, don’t cut corners here. We design from the operatory forward, not from a design “theme” that takes priority over comfortable work space.
In this example of the ‘X’ principle, you can see that all treatment rooms have the shortest distance to the sterilization area, Longer “L” shape designs can create fatigue from long walks to and from the sterile area. A sterilization center with multiple ingresses and egresses is ideal.
#5. Set Your Budget and Expectations Early
The biggest problem I constantly run into is too much money being spent in the wrong places! Are you really going to use a 16 person conference room everyday? Is it worth the amount of money you paid for it? Or the giant private office you spend a fraction of your time in? Focus on where you spend 90% of your time, you will be glad you did! I have been in so many “Beautiful” offices that simply do not work! Before you set out on this journey, take a moment and write down the features you want most, before you are rushed later on. Building out a new office should be a fun and exciting time, but too often it turns into stress over not being sure what you want and trying to add back things you missed.
You will be wishing you left that extra space for two more hygiene rooms instead of filling it with luxury offices or giant conference rooms.
#6. Don't Sign a Contract Too Early!
Some of the Box Dealers want you to sign purchase commitments before they assist you with your design. This may get you locked into purchasing equipment at inflated prices that you might not actually want or need to buy at all. If you do not know about this I will explain. Some dealers will make you sign a purchase commitment before you even see their design, many times these designs are nothing you can’t already find 100 or more freely posted on the web, but it’s too late….they got you. Yes my time is worth money as well, but I am confident we can get you a quality design you will like without locking you in. Also, be wary of the companies that pretend to design your plans here, but farm them out overseas! We get called in often to correct these plans because they constantly have mistakes. We design a basic floor plan you can take to any contractor or architect for free. Let us guide you through this process, we know the ebbs and flows better than anyone, and we will make sure your office is comfortable, efficient, and intuitive!
Signing an intent to purchase can be a big, big mistake!
Following these simple but effective rules can save you thousands, and create the environment of your dreams. Give us a call today to start your way to a new dream space.