No one wants a claustrophobic experience when they visit the dentist — they're already anxious enough — but how much open space should you use? When you're planning out your dental office, you need to be very aware of the needs of both your patients and your staff. Here are a few guidelines on choosing exactly how open your dental office's floor plan should be.
Make A Good First Impression
Patients will be making assumptions about your practice from the moment they walk in and that's why paying attention to design is so important. You need to consider what you want your patients to think when planning your dental office. An open intake area is inviting and immediately puts the patient at ease. On the other hand, a more closed off intake area can make patients feel rushed and claustrophobic. Getting off on the wrong foot like this can make the entire experience worse for patients.
A dental practice is not static. You're constantly growing and changing to better serve your patients. A healthy amount of open space in your dental office gives your operation the room it needs to grow. Need to add new equipment or make room for more patient areas? The more open your floor plan is the less of an issue this will be. Without adequate open space you may find that you are unable to serve the patients you already have — let alone take on new patients.
Give Yourself Room To Work
Cramped environments are not pleasant to work in. With narrow halls and tiny treatment rooms, you're constantly bumping up against walls, patients, and coworkers. You need to think of your dental office as a living, breathing space where people are constantly coming and going. Hygienists need to move from place to place to check in on patients and patients need to be able to get to their treatment areas without obstruction. An open floor plan makes this a breeze, allowing staff to breeze from patient to patient as well as allowing patients to get to their treatment area without any added stress.
Retain A Sense Of Privacy
You might be wondering how to retain your patients sense of privacy and dignity while using open treatment areas. It's actually not as counterintuitive as it sounds. You can put up dividers between the patient areas which retains many of the benefits of an open floor plan while also giving patients that little bit of privacy.
You'd actually be surprised how well some patients — even the anxious ones — react to an open treatment area. It can create a sort of communal experience to know that others are currently going through the same thing as you. In more traditional dental offices patient treatment areas are tightly sectioned off and hidden from view. This atmosphere of secrecy doesn't do much to calm an anxious patient's nerves.
Your dental office should make use of both open and private spaces to ensure that your patients have the best experience possible. Too much open space could lead to your patients feeling exposed. Too little can lead to patients feeling claustrophobic — worsening what is already an anxiety-inducing experience for many patients. Finding the right balance can be tricky. If you have any more questions about designing a dental office that is pleasing to both patients and practitioners don't hesitate to contact us at HJT design today.