While excellent patient care, innovative dental technology, and well-appointed patient treatment areas can all be attributes of a successful dental practice. Another thing to consider is a well-designed waiting area.
Consider the following tips on how to make your waiting area as comfortable as possible:
Instead of going with the standard antimicrobial chairs with scarce padding paired with bulky end tables that stay piled high with outdated magazines, you should choose appealing, comfortable furniture that will be inviting to patients and allows them to sit and relax. It’s also important to arrange furniture differently. Avoid the typical rows of chairs that place strangers uncomfortably close to each other and sitting straight up. If possible consider a layout that creates semi-private areas for patients to sit and wait.
A liaison is a person whose job is to greet the patients as they arrive in the waiting room. They should be well versed in the patients’ profiles and know if they have any particular fears regarding dental visits. They should be kind and address each patient by name. The idea is to help put the patients at ease from the moment they enter the waiting area. You can select someone already on staff to fill this role, perhaps someone who is especially good with patient care, or you can hire a new team member for this role alone.
Small luxuries can go a long way in a doctor’s office in terms of improving the overall patient experience. This can include a wide variety of services from massage chairs or a minifridge full of waters to a coffee bar and everything in between. Just make sure that there is plenty of product to go around if you do feature complimentary items. Also make sure to keep everything stocked and readily available to patients.
Be Mindful of Volume
A dental practice is a bustling environment that can get loud. That’s understandable. However, be mindful of the volume within the waiting area. For example, it’s fine to have a show playing on a mounted TV set or music piped through the speakers, but ensure the volume of neither becomes overwhelming. You want any piped-in music to be soothing in nature and to be at a low enough volume that it basically disappears into the background.
In the case of a waiting room television, keep the volume loud enough for the program to be heard, but not so loud that it can’t be ignored. It may also be wise to ensure your waiting room has free wifi so patients have the option to bring a laptop and work or simply use their own devices without using data. This can also be a great thing for any parents or spouses who are waiting for their family member to finish up their appointment. Allowing them to utilize their own devices on guest wifi can be a huge perk.
Natural sunlight is a known mood enhancer, so use that to help create a more welcoming waiting room. No one enjoys being stuck in a room with harsh fluorescent lighting. If you are fortunate enough to have windows available within the waiting area, use them and open them up to the sunshine. You can add shutters to ensure privacy while still letting the light shine into the room. If you don’t have access to natural light, try to mimic the feel by adding chandeliers and lamps to the room.
Try not to go overboard. By having overly bright lights this can make patients feel energetic or nervous. What you want is to create calmness in the room that puts patients at ease without allowing the room to be so dark that patients and their companions are unable to read or work during their wait.
Growing Your Dental Practice
Creating a welcoming waiting area is just one of several strategies to grow your dental patient list. Patients who feel at ease and valued when visiting your office are more apt to come back and make referrals. And that positive experience begins in the waiting area.