Is Your Waiting Room’s Design Serving Your Dental Office?

Posted by HJT Design

How much thought did you put into your current waiting room’s design? Even if you took a bit of time with one aspect or another, there’s a good chance you’ve missed a few vital aspects of the patient experience. When it comes to satisfying your customers, your waiting room design matters nearly as much as what happens in the back room—so make sure you’ve hit every crucial point.

Why dental office design matters

Before we get into the details of dental office design, let’s look at why your waiting room matters and what you’re aiming for overall. More than the reality of the experience a patient has with your dental office, perception determines your business’s long-term prospects. Everyone hates waiting as a general rule, just like everyone hates going to the dentist. That means you’re fighting an uphill battle to build a positive relationship with your guests—but the waiting room remains your best opportunity nonetheless. Why?

  • The first impression. The first impression of any patient begins with your waiting room, especially if you have a no-fuss appointment scheduling process.
  • Patient anxiety. People get worked up at any doctor’s office, but the dentist especially. The waiting room gives you a window to combat that fear.
  • Potential patients. Not everyone who visits goes to the back. Family or friends might stay in the waiting room during an appointment; the waiting room is your only chance to make an impression on them.
  • Memory. Most people think of the waiting room as much as anything when they think of the doctor. An excellent dentist with a poorly designed waiting room can end up remembered negatively overall.

Key aspects of dental office design

To build a waiting room that serves your office respectably, you need to hit on four key aspects of design.

  • Why Dental Office Design Matters. Consider downloading the Office Design & Construction process manual for all the answers!Visual design. The color of the paint and carpet, the lighting, the layout. Visual design may not matter as much as other aspects, but an ugly waiting room makes for a terrible first impression.
  • Seating and other furniture. Inadequate or uncomfortable seating can make a waiting room experience miserable. Poorly constructed chairs, desks, and tables can exude ‘cheapness’ and leave a bad impression, and might cost you more over time in replacements and repairs.
  • Entertainment and distractions. Make sure you offer a variety of distractions in your waiting room, to take the edge off. This can come in many forms; the ubiquitous presence of magazines and a television makes for a good start, if the magazines are interesting and the television convenient to watch. Offer Wi-Fi and a number of guests will gladly provide their own engrossing entertainment via phone or tablet. Focus on making the entertainment good for your patients, rather than ticking off boxes on a checklist.  
  • Something special. Adding something a bit unique to the mix can elevate a waiting room to new heights, becoming a point-of-interest that gets people talking about your office with friends—something like a pinball machine can work wonders, even if you primarily serve adult patients.

Parting thoughts

It’s important as you address these points to remember your patients. What makes for a pleasant waiting room experience for an older crowd and what makes for a pleasant waiting experience for children and their parents will look completely different. Focus your dental office design around making a better experience for your patients, whoever they may be.

Happy patients come back, happy patients tell their friends to visit, and healthy patients make fewer fusses and headaches during their visits. Your waiting room owes your dental office the benefits of happy patients.

Regardless of the magnitude and complexity of your project, our staff of experienced professionals are poised and ready to help navigate you through the process and fulfill your specific needs. If you’re not too sure where or how to start with the process, contact HJT to schedule a free consultation for answers and knowledge to prepare and empower you in moving forward with confidence.