First let’s do a simple upgrade to the Waiting Room without spending a single penny. Stop referring to it as a “Waiting Room” an area designed or built specifically for the purpose of waiting; let’s from this moment forward refer to it as the “Patient’s Lounge” a place where one can relax, grab a hot coffee, settle down into a comfortable seat and enjoy an article about exotic travels, the latest home designs or culinary trends.
You have only one chance at making the right, “The First Impression”. The first place your dental office should invest money and energy in is into making sure you receive the highest marks, for you in the “Patient's Lounge”. It will be judged and scored for the overall aesthetics, spatial proportion, amenity, cleanliness, ambient lighting, noise and how the particular patient feels, being in your space.
Here are a few areas to give consideration:
Whether it is near the entry door or across the room, the reception desk should be placed and orientated to be the most prominent feature with easy and direct access to for patients once they enter the building. It should be open, inviting and finished in high grade materials (but not too ostentatious), appropriate for the patient base being served. The patient’s first impression of your office should be friendly, relaxing, clean and professional which gives them a sense of comfort that the quality level of your clinical service would also carry high marks. Also, a friendly and cordial hostess greeting to newly arrived patients and an offering of available amenities can help to set the guess at ease and a feeling of being pampering.
Colors and Textures
Resist the urge to be trendy or faddish, with your color choices, your office will be dated once the trend subsides. Neutral earth tone colors lend a more relaxing environment for calming nervous patients. The space doesn’t have to be a monochromatic space The use of textures and accent walls can add interest and make the artistic/ design statements desired. In choosing textured elements, be mindful that regular maintenance/ cleaning will be needed.
Furniture and Seating
This can deemed it as an expense or as an investment. What you purchase for your home, in terms of seating, and what you should purchase for your office will be for a very different level of usage and abuse. Invest into furnishings that are sturdy in construction, easy to care for and classic in design. Have a mix of seating options with and without armrest; a sofa if your practice is seeing families with children and include Bariatric seating for your extra plus size patients. Furniture designed for commercial and public spaces are available in every niche of styles and aesthetics from ultra modern to traditional to match your office design and budget. It can be used to convey a message and impression about your practice; your selection should also match your patient base with attention to comfort and longevity.
A commercial space doesn’t have to scream “Commercial” with stark white from all fluorescent fixtures; mix with incandescent light fixtures can soften the harsh lit environment and sets the mood of warmth less threatening; better for relaxation, prior to treatments. Accent lighting with decorative lenses or trims can be use to add colors and highlight design features and or art work upping visual interest for an upscale feel.
Here's a list of things you need to have:
A Beverage Station
Fresh Baked Cookies
A 300 Gallons Salt Water Aquarium
An Internet Bar
The current trend for many Patient's Lounge may include one, two or more, of the amenities mentioned above; including any of the above amenities to your current space does require thoughtful planning and a buy in from your staff, since it will require their proactive oversight to implement it successfully. Good and thoughtful design can make a huge difference how these amenities can add positive points to the total experience. Regular maintenance, tidiness and the staff’s watchful eyes will be needed to tend after these amenities.
Music can tame the wildest of beasts, the right music that is. Soft easy listening music would be more appropriate for a larger portion of the masses; void of percussion and aggressive changes in pitch promote calmness and relaxation. An added benefit from ambient music is sound mixing or masking, which helps mask noise and or conversation within adjacent rooms from being audible, for any unintended listeners.
If your patient base includes families with young children, then a dedicated children area as part of the Patient's Lounge would make sense, if not be needed. This Little People’s Space can present big challenges, if not thoughtfully design. The overall quality and ambience of the entire Patient's Lounge should be taken into consideration, therefore; placing the Children’s area furthest away from the Reception area as possible so not to interfere with normal business functions at the Reception Desk, but so it can still be visually monitor by Front Desk Staff. Furniture should be sized for children and easy to keep clean. Safety, durability and minimalistic would be the main objective when children areas are being consider into the design. Electronic games are changing at neck break speed and personal mobile devices are becoming common place apparatuses, even for young toddlers; so take it into consideration when considering internet café/ stations, as part of your offerings.
Ultimately, the First Impression is like the litmus test of what can be expected for the balance of the entire experience. Everything has its value, function and message; visual and spoken setting the term of the relationships between the practice and its patients. Try to make it memorable!
If you are on a budget you can still have above average aesthetics for the Patient's Lounge.
Whether your project requires an entire makeover or just a few installations, our team of experienced professionals is ready to help navigate you through the process and fulfill your specific needs. If you’re not too sure where or how to start with the process, contact HJT to schedule a free consultation for answers and knowledge to prepare and empower you in moving forward with confidence.