Dental clinic waiting rooms are very important when it comes to patients and staff members alike. Not only are they the start of a patient’s experience with a dental practice, but they’re the start of what many view as an uncomfortable experience! So, it’s important that they create as relaxing and welcoming an atmosphere as possible.
Why Is a Dental Practice Waiting Area Important?
The waiting room in which your patient gets settled before their appointment is very important for calming nerves and heightening their experience with you. Dental practice reception area design therefore needs to be less clinical than the dental surgeries themselves might be, in order to achieve this. Adding comfy seats, perhaps a nice printed rug, and yellow-white lights, as opposed to blue-white, will automatically add a sense of health, warmth and calmness to your waiting room and improve the patient experience.
Research has shown that patients also feel a lot more relaxed in the dental waiting room if they were provided with up-to-date reading material, free Wi-Fi, children’s toys and some sort of TV screen, whether that’s showing practice information or live TV coverage.
Dentist Waiting Room Interiors, Layout and Design
Obtaining help from dental architects is something to look into if you think your waiting room could do with a bit of a facelift. The architectural and design solutions provided by a dental architect will give you great ideas on how to improve the practice overall, from the dental reception area design to the surgery design. By identifying the audience of your dental practice and looking at the space available, dental architects can suggest subtle or vast changes to your building design that will appeal to your patients’.
If the furniture and décor in your reception area is looking a little tired, then you know it’s time for an update. Instead of rows of upright hard chairs, try having different seating areas (if space permits), such as around coffee tables, quiet spaces and family areas. Styles and colours should reflect your brand and values too. If you’re a cutting-edge practice, sleek, clean lines and modern furniture would be a good fit. For a more family-oriented practice, brighter colours and softer shapes would be better.
Improving the Waiting Room Experience
If done correctly, dental practice design will drastically improve the patient waiting room experience, which can have a benefit from a marketing and brand point of view. The happier and more relaxed your customers are, the more likely they are to return and even recommend to others. Having an on-brand waiting room, such as using the same colour palette used in the practice logo, will help patients to remember the dental surgery’s name and values. As they spend a fair amount of time in the waiting room they’ll subconsciously link the colour scheme to the logo/practice name when referring you to a friend or family member.
The interior design of a standard dental practice is usually quite clinical, as practices have to achieve, and sustain, a high level of cleanliness, and often dental surgery design is based on the best possible way to keep the building clean and practical. However when it comes to your reception area, you can have a little bit more fun. That doesn’t mean it should be chaotic and untidy though!
Keeping your surgery clean is the most important aspect, to staff members and patients. In order to step up your surgery design and keep the clean, pristine feel for reassurance, stick to simple colours such as white and blue. For comfort and calmness, go for off white/cream, and beige or taupe – these colours are warmer and will create a less surgical feel but they’re also light enough to still make the area seem clean and promote a feeling of health and wellbeing.
Non-Design Tips for Improving your Practice’s Waiting Room Experience
Your patients’ experience doesn’t end with the design of your reception area. You have to take into account the whole waiting experience if you’re going to put your patients at ease and calm any nerves.
Keep them hydrated – A lot of dental practices have some form of water dispenser. Mouths tend to dry up when people are nervous, so this is a great addition to any waiting room; however, to expand upon this, having comfy seats and small tables will add to the patient experience by giving them somewhere to sit and put drinks down. In line with this, perhaps invest in something other than a small plastic cup – these are very clinical and aren’t environmentally friendly.
Better music is a must! – A lot of surgery-based buildings use elevator-style music which adds to the clinical and impersonal feel. Investing in calming CD’s or using a good, all-rounder radio station will drastically improve the ambience of your reception area.
Provide reading material – Having a wide range of magazines is a big plus. Not everyone enjoys reading about celebrity gossip and home improvement so sourcing a variety of magazines from different genres would go down really well with your patients (make sure you keep these updated regularly though – nobody wants to read three-year-out-of-date articles!). Similarly, having puzzle material is a plus too. This can help keep anxious minds occupied ahead of dental appointments. If possible, think about offering free wifi – people like to stay connected and often miss work for appointments, so make it easy for them to check emails.
Be child-friendly – Let’s face it, most kids don’t enjoy trips to the dentist. Having a child-friendly area of the room is a great addition when it comes to dental practice waiting area design. Giving children an area to play in or some fun books to read will largely improve the experience for them, their parent/guardian and other patients. Patients who struggle with the idea of dental surgery will have heightened irritability and it won’t improve their experience if they have to listen to children crying before their appointment.
Add TV screens – A television is also a great addition to a waiting room. If lengthy wait times occur a television will help provide patients with something to pass by the time. Similarly, if you have an irritable or anxious patient, a television will help occupy their mind before their appointment. You could use the TV for marketing purposes, e.g. to advertise your various services, or update patients on practice changes or events, or simply have a TV channel running (on mute, with subtitles of course). A study even showed that having digital signage could decrease perceived wait times, which are a major cause of frustration for patients!
Invest in the right staff – Pleasant front-desk staff are a must! To improve the patient experience, you need invest in helpful and friendly reception staff. They are the first port of call for patients and having a friendly, smiling face to greet them will automatically set their nerves aside.
Dental practice design may seem like an easy task but catering for an array of different patients, and their needs, makes it a little harder than you’d think. In the dental industry we experience many different people, some who like their dental appointments (or at least don’t mind them!) and some who don’t. By investing in high-quality staff, entertainment and comfortable, modern furniture, and considering the overall experience of your reception area, you’ll create a relaxing and welcoming environment that your patients will enjoy spending time in – even if they aren’t a fan of the actual dentistry bit!