Get the Most out of Your Small Dental Office
Posted in Medical Construction.
Just because a space is small, that doesn’t mean it isn’t right for a dental office. With proper forethought and planning, you can design a practice that maximizes efficiency without sacrificing patient satisfaction or practitioner sanity. Solid dental office space design can get the job done.
Assess Current Challenges
For anyone in an office that feels too small, redesign options may provide you with the fixes you need to improve efficiency and serve more patients. Before investing in new equipment or starting to rearrange the office, spend a week having the full staff keep a running list of the challenges and irritations that slow them down or distract them from what they were trying to do. You might be surprised by what you find. And what you find should drive your choices on where to start improving the situation.
Consider taking a page from Lean Manufacturing and Five S your space. Based on a Japanese visual management technique, Five S provides a systematic way to create order in a workplace and sustain it to maximize efficiency and profit. The five steps can help you identify waste and areas for improvement. They are:
- Sort: Review all items in each work area and remove any that do not need to be there in order to do the work that happens in the space.
- Set in Order: Make sure that every item in each work space has a designated location for storage. Any items that have been removed from a given work area need to be given an appropriate location for storage.
- Shine: Do a thorough deep clean of each work area. This can go beyond standard cleaning practices to include tending to the small repairs that may get away from us, like squeaky hinges or loose doorknobs.
- Standardize: Write down the plan for each area so that you have created a yardstick to continually compare the day-to-day practices against.
- Sustain: Put in place daily practices to help ensure that the new system sticks. Or can be improved upon.
Even in a small practice, the amount of time spent bouncing from room to room to discuss cases or to let the front desk know that a room is ready for the next patient can add up quickly. In-office communication systems – think of the wireless earpieces you have likely seen in retail stores – allow team members to ask questions and share updates from wherever they are located. This increase in efficiency also keeps associates out of the hallways, reducing potential crowding that can slow down other office activities or leave patients feeling cramped and uncomfortable.
If locating the right supplies is part of the challenge, consider centralizing them in a single location. Many practices are finding that wall storage systems provide them with the simple, flexible, easy-to-use, centralized storage that they have been looking for. By putting all key supplies in a location that is easy to access from all points in the practice, they reduce confusion and cut the time that was previously spent hunting for items that could have been spread across the different operatories.
Make the Most of Every Inch
Not every building presents you with right angle corners and standard-size rooms. This is especially true of older buildings that can give you great architectural character and are often in outstanding locations. These rooms can still work well for your practice with the addition of custom millwork designed and built specifically for your location.
This is a great option when you are trying to squeeze more storage space out of the awkward corners you often find in older buildings. It can also help to make your practice unique and memorable for your patients. Custom millwork to deal with unique angles and corners doesn’t need to be limited to operatories and offices. It can also be called on to make your reception and waiting areas functional and beautiful.
Maximize Natural Light
When spaces are open and well lit, they convey a sense of space, even if they aren’t very large. Smaller offices should consider creating divided operatories rather than completely separated rooms. Patients can be given an appropriate amount of privacy through the use of repositionable wall dividers. And using glass in their construction allows light to flow throughout a space.
Permanent partitions can also use glass to create the illusion of space while also creating the divided space needed to conduct the various activities you find in today’s dental office.
Keep Staff Spaces Organized
Ensuring that your team has a place to keep their belongings organized and safe can help in multiple ways. First, it keeps personal items out of other common areas in the practice. Second, it helps keep staff focused because they don’t have to worry about their things. Many practices have started installing stylish and very practical locker systems to accomplish both of these objectives. These stacking lockers are one option to help make the most of limited space.
Consult with an Expert
Small spaces can make great dental practices with the right planning and design choices. Finding your way from cramped and cluttered, to comfortable and convenient doesn’t have to be overwhelming. To make the journey as painless as possible, contact us. At Real Services we have a long track record of helping dental and medical practices create beautiful, functional, efficient spaces that delight patients and staff alike. Contact us today to learn more.