Küster Dental Blog

Posts Tagged ‘dental design’

What Sets Your Dental Office Apart?

Posted on: March 24th, 2014 by James Kuester No Comments
A three legged stool - dentistry, service, design

A three legged stool – dentistry, service, design

What sets your dental practice off from all of the competition?  What is your unique value proposition that keeps patients coming back and motivates them to refer their family and friends to your door?  “We provide great oral healthcare,” you say.  “But,” I challenge, so do the guys down the street – and across town, and in the next township over.  I would say that merely providing really good healthcare is not enough to brand differentiate your dental practice from all of the competition. Of course, this is something that every dental practice should be striving for. In fact, I’d contend they should be striving to provide exceptional oral healthcare. However, in an environment where dentistry is viewed as a commodity there has to be more to your brand beyond exceptional care.  The entire dental experience must be exceptional.

The hard part of building a business is in identifying that unique element that sets it apart from all of its competition.  We call this the “defining touch” of the business.  Once identified the business must have a specific plan on how to shape, hone, and refine this touch into the sharp sword of excellence that will give it an edge over the competition.  It is not enough to be good at one does.  One must strive for excellence in order to attract new patients, retain the ones you’ve got, and build a practice that flourishes.  Of course, we firmly believe that the design of the dental office is integral to this defining element and that success cannot be achieved without weaving the design of the physical space and the design of the patient service together into a symbiotic whole.  All three legs of the dentistry, service, and office design “stool” must be strong if it is going to support a winning team.

How Do You Know Whether Your Office is a Hit?

Posted on: March 21st, 2014 by James Kuester No Comments

HandsClappingYou go to a show.  You thoroughly enjoy it.  So do all the people around you.  At the end you, along with everyone else in the theatre erupt into enthusiastic applause and leap to your feet.  As you leave the theatre you can’t stop talking about how wonderful the performance was, which were your favorite scenes – your favorite lines.  The next day you’re still talking about it to everyone you meet.  The sow was obviously a hit.

But, you run a dental office, not a theatre troupe.  How do you know if your dental practice is a “hit” with your patients?  You’ve just spent good money remodeling the practice after taking over from the retiring, senior associate.  Was that money well spent?  Have you achieved your goal of providing an exceptional patient experience?  Well, are your patients talking about you?

How would you know whether your patients are talking about you?  One of the first ways is to be tracking referrals.  The time to start tracking both patient referrals and appointment cancellations is before you embark on your remodel or some other major change in the practice operations.  The more baseline data you have the more certain you’ll be of the results after the change.  If you’ve been successful in improving the patient experience you should see referrals go up and cancellations fall.

You can also survey your patients asking them about their experience.  Again, if you can do this before the change doing so afterwards will give you comparative data.  Having a third-party survey your patients is probably a better choice than having someone from the office call.  Patients are more likely to be honest with a third-party than someone in the office they know – especially if they have a complaint.  Email surveys are also good as they are less expensive and you can reach out to every patient that you have an email address for.

Then there is social media.  You can look to see what your patients are saying on your Facebook page.  You can build quick Facebook surveys that can help you ask specific questions about changes in the practice and solicit responses.

As Lady Gaga says, “[we] live for the applause.” In the case of a dental office hit, the applause is a vibrant, growing practice.

Sanitary Flooring Options for the Dental Office

Posted on: March 19th, 2014 by James Kuester No Comments
terrazzo floor w cove (2)

Terrazzo floor with seamless cove base

Do you need a floor that is easy to clean and easy to keep microbial free?  One of the best ways to insure both features is to get one that is seamless.  There are a couple of ways to accomplish this.  One if through a rolled vinyl material that has welded seams where needed.  Another is through using terrazzo.

There are rolled vinyl products available now that contain recycled content and provide antimicrobial properties.  Some can be seamed to a cove base to create a smooth, corner free transition from floor to wall that is easy to clean and prevents dirt attracting crevices at the edges.

This same seamless cove transition is possible using terrazzo where the base and flooring can be poured together to provide a great microbe free surface.  Terrazzo is another green option as it can readily contain recycled materials as part of the aggregate and is produced locally to the project.

Especially in surgery suites where sanitation is of added importance we recommend either of these approaches to achieving a great looking, low maintenance, sanitary floor.

Always On the Lookout

Posted on: March 17th, 2014 by James Kuester No Comments
A common concrete trough sink.

A common concrete trough sink.

We’re always on the lookout for new and interesting design ideas that hopefully, one day we’ll be able to incorporate into a project for one of our clients.  While we’re not exactly sure how we’d work this into a dental office design, the Coup d’état restaurant that recently opened in Minneapolis’ Uptown District really has a fun twist on restroom design.  Rather than completely separate facilities for men and women or the increasingly popular unisex arrangement, they still separated the main facilities between the sexes but combined the hand-washing station into a single, long, poured concrete trough with several faucets positioned along the length.  This common area not only affords a great pattern interrupt from the same ol’, same ol’ in restaurant restrooms, it makes great use of the long, narrow hallway that so often accompanies access to restrooms.  Plus, because it is unexpected patrons to the restaurant engage in spontaneous conversation while washing their hands before returning to their tables.  What a great way to get people off their phones and talking to one another!

Of course, we cannot forget those with disabilities.  One end of the trough was lowered and had its own sink at a height and design compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.  This feature was also poured concrete and integrated into the whole so it felt natural and a part of the design rather than an afterthought or special accommodation.

The ADA compliant sink at one end.

The ADA compliant sink at one end.

We applaud the designers for Coup d’état on their creativity and originality and look forward to the chance to flatter them by “copying it” in one of our own.  (Oh, by the way, the food is really good, too.)

Flowers – A Sure Sign of Spring

Posted on: March 14th, 2014 by James Kuester No Comments

Spring flowers in the snow.

Spring is almost here and one of the surest signs that it is on its way is the appearance of flower buds poking through the snow.  The mere sight of these bright colors immediately lights one’s spirits and puts a smile on one’s face.  The same is true when patients first walk into a dental office and are greeted by an arrangement of fresh flowers.  Nothing does the trick of brightening a room the way fresh cut flowers can, and after a long, cold, dreary winter, an arrangement of spring flowers can really add life to the office décor.

An arrangement of fresh cut flowers doesn’t only put patients in a better mood, but provide a great energy boost to the staff working in the office.  When staff members are in a good mood this automatically extends to how they greet patients in person as well as on the phone, making exchanges warmer and friendlier.  The more positive the interactions patients have while in the dental office the higher the likelihood they will provide positive referrals to their family and friends.

Happier staff also translates into a more productive workforce.  While the cost of keeping fresh cut flowers in the office may seem high, the returns from increased productivity and increased referrals more than offsets the rise in overhead expenses.

Blue – Another Great Color Choice for 2014

Posted on: March 12th, 2014 by James Kuester No Comments
"Blue" jeans

“Blue” jeans

Blue.  More specifically, indigo, is a hot color right now.  Earlier we discussed that Radiant Orchid is Pantone’s 2014 Color of the Year, but Indigo is definitely a hot choice right now among color enthusiasts.  The color watchers at The Wall Street journal are seeing a re-emergence of Indigo in everything from fashion to furnishings and print.

What makes Indigo such an appealing color? Think blue jeans.  Ever since Levi Strauss launched his line of jeans in the 19th century, Americans have been in love with their jeans.  Who doesn’t wear a pair when they are off work and relaxing?  Heck, we’re known to wear our favorite pairs until they have holes and are practically falling off of us.  If one is going to design a dental office and brand it as the ultimate in relaxed, comfortable, and friendly oral health care, what better way to capture this than by using indigo and denim as part of the décor?

The goal is to create a space that people feel comfortable coming to so they won’t cancel their appointments out of anxiety and that they’ll refer all of their family and friends to.  Indigo can be an excellent choice, working well against a backdrop of neutral colors from white to beige to taupe to bring a sense of calm and relaxation to the practice.  Will indigo appeal across genders?  We certainly think so. What man doesn’t own a pair of jeans and have blue in his closet?

Ready to Inject Some Bold Color into Your Design?

Posted on: March 10th, 2014 by James Kuester 1 Comment

Pantone’s 2014 Color of the Year

Pantone’s 2014 Color of the Year is 18-3224 Radiant Orchid, which they describe as, “…a captivating, magical, enigmatic purple.”1

“While the 2013 color of the year, PANTONE 17-5641 Emerald, served as a symbol of growth, renewal and prosperity, Radiant Orchid reaches across the color wheel to intrigue the eye and spark the imagination,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®. “An invitation to innovation, Radiant Orchid encourages expanded creativity and originality, which is increasingly valued in today’s society.”1

We agree.  The modern dental office experience screams for originality, creativity, and individualization of the patient experience, and the design of the office is a key foundation for building a brand that brings this all together for the thriving practice.  Without a unique brand and patient experience how else is a dental office going to set itself apart and thrive in an increasingly crowded marketplace where a new practice opens seemingly across the street every day?  Infusing the office design with accents of colors that speak to the here, the now, and the creative is one way to keep the patient experience fresh, unique, and different.  Layered over a neutral palette of grays, beiges, or taupes, this color used as an accent can really re-energize a space without overpowering it.

We challenge our clients to think beyond the box and embrace a bold and different branding message and consider incorporating this year’s Color of the Year into their accent pieces.

1 Pantone Reveals Color of the Year for 2014:
PANTONE 18-3224 Radiant Orchid

The More Special Dental Experience

Posted on: March 7th, 2014 by James Kuester No Comments
A Lindt truffle

A Lindt truffle

Do you remember when your dentist gave you a sucker after your appointment?  I do.  I loved Charm Pops and going to the dentist was the only time I ever got one.  Getting to pick out a grape one after my appointment made me feel special and helped take away the anxiety of having to go in the first place.  (I feared having a cavity and having my teeth pulled.)

The other night I returned to my hotel room following a banquet to find a Lindt chocolate on my pillow and the bed turned down.  While many consider such touches to be old fashion, I find them quite nice. The simple touch was a nice surprise coming back to the room after a long day.

I understand why dentists don’t give out sugary candy after appointments anymore.  A bit self-serving and not exactly a promotion of good oral health, but there are other ways to add a special little touch to one’s dental experience to make the trip more special.  (I friend and co-advisor in a youth group I work with likes to call this “specialer”.)  So, the goal is to design a dental experience that is “specialer” so patients feel good about their visits and time spent there.  When a “specialer” experience is achieved patients refer more family and friends about how great their experience was, which translates into growth for the practice.  And, the best part is creating a “specialer” dental experience only requires little touches – remember the Charm Pops and Lindt chocolate.

A Walk on the Red Carpet

Posted on: March 3rd, 2014 by James Kuester No Comments
Roll out the red carpet for your patients.

Roll out the red carpet for your patients.

The red carpet.  Conjures up star studded events such as the Academy Awards and other award shows.  The people that walk there are special.  They get noticed. They get treated well.  Is it too much to ask to get a little “red carpet” treatment injected into our everyday lives?  The patients that come to your dental office deserve nothing less.

We’re not advocating that every dental office be designed with red carpeting.  That would be rather dull, wouldn’t it?  No, instead we’re advocating that the experience of walking into one’s dental office should make a patient feel they are the most important person in the world at that moment.  They should be immediately surrounded by colors, lights, and textures that make them feel calm, relaxed, and confident that they will receive excellent oral health care.  They should be greeted by a warm, smiling person that acknowledges that their presence is appreciated and important.  They should be offered a comfortable place to sit, a secure place to hang their coat, and a beverage to warm them or quench their thirst.  While the goal is to never have anyone waiting, one cannot anticipate the patient that arrives early or the unexpected procedure that delays an operatory from being available exactly as scheduled.

In accordance with HIPAA patients should not be addressed by their full names and there should not be a sign in sheet that identifies them or their appointment time where other patients may read this information.  Gone should be the ultra-unfriendly and overly clinical glass window that staff hides behind and cuts them off from patients.

We’ve never walked into a day spa that didn’t immediately make us feel good about being there.  The same thing cannot be said about many dental offices.  While dental offices are not day spas, there is no reason that dental offices can’t take a page from the day spa handbook on how to give patients a “walk on the red carpet.”

Melding Form & Function for a Better Patient Experience

Posted on: February 28th, 2014 by James Kuester No Comments
A beautiful, curving modern design

A beautiful, curving modern design

In order to achieve a great patient experience form and function must meld together seamlessly through the design so that there are no negative pattern interrupts.  This is not always easy to achieve and requires the designer and user to work closely together to understand how a space is going to be used on a daily basis.  If this doesn’t happen things that look good on paper may not work well at all in application.  For example, I recently saw a lovely faucet that had beautiful curved, modern lines; however, to turn the water from cold to hot one had to rotate the control counter clockwise to rear of the faucet.  Anyone that is left handed could not reach the control while standing directly in front of the sink and had to step to their right in order to operate it.  Function Fail.

A more common function fail we see in dental office designs is the lack of anywhere to hang one’s coat.  We understand most patients do not like the idea of leaving a coat unattended in the waiting room, but rarely do we find any accommodations made in the operatory to put them.  Coats end up draped over a side chair or scrunched in the corner of the room.  How hard is it to put a couple of coat hooks in each room?

Positive pattern interrupts are great in design.  They wake people up from the fog they tend to wander through and causes them to pay more attention to their surroundings and makes an experience more memorable.  However, unlike negative ones, the memories are good ones.  For example, a woman walking into the restroom at her dental office to find a special shelf for her to place her purse on so it isn’t merely sitting on the floor or counter comes as a pleasant surprise.

The goal in designing the patient experience is to blend form and function together so the memories are all positive.  When this is achieved patients go away telling their family and friends only good things which generates more referrals and subsequently more patients and the practice grows.  Another good thing.