Today I’m on the train. Normally, I drive when I go to the Wisconsin office, but today I decided to slow things down and take the train. As I sit here watching out the window, I have the luxury of being able to see all of the rich beauty and textures that characterize the rural landscape and small towns that we pass through. This is not something one really has the opportunity to witness when behind the steering wheel hurtling down the interstate at 70 mph.
It is amazing how soft the whistle of the train I am on is from inside the coach. I know that outside the sound is much louder. The insulation and sound baffling of the coaches is truly amazing.
We pass a hunter in his blaze orange cap waiting patiently in a tree for a deer to walk by.
While the design of a rural dentist office may be different from that of its urban cousin, both need to be comfortable and inviting to the patients that frequent them. The interior design needs to welcome them in and assure them that they are going to receive the best oral health care – that they are not going to be tortured or have to endure extreme pain. Dentistry in the 21st century has come a long way, yet so many people still fear the trip to their dentist. It is the job of the office design to help communicate competence yet comfort at the same time.
Next time you get to the office early or happen to be staying late, slow down and take a few extra minutes to walk through the office and really look at your surroundings. Rather than rushing down the Interstate of life, sit in one or more of the chairs in the reception area and look around. What do you see? How do you feel? Are you comfortable? Do the colors, textures, and lighting make you relax, or do you just feel like you’re in a healthcare reception area? If you were thirsty could you get something
to drink such as a bottle of water or cup of coffee?
Now, get up and walk through the restroom. If you’d broken your leg and were in a cast, would you readily be able to navigate the restroom? How about if you were in a wheelchair? So many of the older offices I visit do not have restrooms that are accommodating to those with disabilities, whether short term or permanent.
Lastly, hop up in one of your exam chairs. Lean back. How comfortable are you? Is there a glaring light in your eye from overhead? Can you honestly relax or are you on edge feeling like you are about to fall out of the chair? Unfortunately,
this last case is one that I find far too often. How can we as industry professionals expect patients to relax and feel comfortable for their exams and treatments if they feel like they have to hold themselves in their chairs to keep from falling out?
I realize that we are now in the midst of one of the craziest and most hectic times of the year, but try to slow down for a few
minutes and pay attention to your surroundings. By looking at your dental office through the eye of a patient, you just might find the source of your cancellations and missed appointments. The lack of soothing colors and textures, just like the landscape from the train, really does have a negative impact on your bottom line.