How to Design a Patient-Focused Dental Practice

Posted in Case Study.

Multiple studies have proven what we know from our extensive work in medical construction to be true, there’s a positive correlation between attractive environments and patient satisfaction. The right design will not only make them happier but will also reduce their anxiety about the reason they are there. And if they are comfortable, they are much more likely to visit your office for elective procedures. If patient friendly dental office design is important to you, and it should be, check out our design tips for your next renovation!

Design a residential rather than commercial space.

Commercial medical spaces can easily feel sterile. A cold, hospital environment will not be comfortable to your patients. Instead, opt for design choices made in residential spaces. Try soothing colors on the walls, warm incandescent lighting, cabinets and flooring that feel like they could be in the client’s own home.

Commercial spaces can also feel cavernous. If your dental office is large, it can cause your patients to feel like numbers. For example, if you have a gigantic waiting room, try breaking it up into smaller sections with a large front desk. These smaller pockets of seating can help you create a cozier, boutique environment.

See how a real client turned his dental practice into the ultimate patient experience.

Expert Tip:

When picking a design style for your practice, search for inspiration on sites like Houzz or Pinterest. Your contractor can get a sense of your style to create a warm space but pick durable materials that hold up to commercial use.

Focus on patient flow.

Look at your floorplan and finishes through the eyes of the patient. From the moment they enter your practice, how will they travel throughout the space? Here are a few questions you can ask to improve patient flow.

  • Does your waiting area have the correct number of seats?
  • Are the hallways wide enough?
  • What does the patient see while sitting in their operatory chair?
  • How many other patients will they see during their visit?
  • Is their check-out procedure located at the same place as check-in?

One of our dental clients designed an office floorplan that funneled all hallways towards the treatment coordinator. This minimized interactions with other patients during their stay. See the full case study here.

Don’t forget the exterior of the building.

Your building’s exterior will be a patient’s first impression. From parking to the entryway, this has a huge impact on their experience. Compare these two experiences:

1) Patient A looks for the parking lot entrance of their doctor’s office. There’s no clear signage and they accidentally turn into the exit rather than the entrance. All of the parking spaces are slanted towards the entrance, so they struggle to park. They then have to navigate a series of steps to get to the entrance, which is tiring for them at their age – not to mention a tripping hazard in dim lighting. They try to delay their doctor’s appointment as much as possible to avoid the hassle in the future.

2) Patient B pulls into their dentist’s ample parking lot. It’s dark out but they can easily find their way to the entrance with expertly-placed lighting. There are no uncomfortable experiences during their entry and exit of the building that affects their opinion of the office as a whole.

Focus on the function and design of your exterior to avoid the paint points Patient A experiences. It starts with site selection and ends with an exterior design that matches your interior aesthetic.

There are many more variables that affect a patient-centered design. But often they depend on your specific practice, location, and patient population. Collaborate with your contractor to create a space that is efficient as it is comfortable.

Want to learn more about dental construction?

Read our FREE eBook, “The 5 Basic Steps Behind Every Dental Practice Build-Out.” We cover everything from choosing the right site to picking finishes for your patient-friendly design.