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    Why it's critical to design with the future in mind

    When it comes to office renovation and dental cabinetry, planning for the future is critical for the success of your practice.


    Peering into the great beyond

    We’re looking at a future of devices. During our original “Integration Phase 1.0” we got lucky with USB being developed and having the ability to power some of our devices like intraoral cameras and X-ray sensors. That decreased the need for power outlets. However, I doubt we get that lucky the second time around when we enter “Integration Phase 2.0”

    Because of that, we are going to need electrical outlets and plenty of them. My recommendation is to try and figure out how many outlets you feel you will need in the future and then double it. If you truly want to be sure you’ve planned adequately, triple it. I’ve never walked into an office before and thought “well there are way too many electrical outlets in here.” Plus, with dental cabinetry, you can hide some of the outlets (if you desire) inside the cabinets.

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    I would also plan for the largest conduit possible. Conduit is simply plastic pipe that caries the technology cords, wires and cables through walls, floors, etc. Two-inch diameter is the largest you can use in standard wall thickness and I highly recommend it. Moving your cabling through a large diameter is orders of magnitude easier than skinny conduit.

    Never assume you have enough room for supplies. As your inventory of technology devices grows, so does your inventory of supplies to keep them running. I’m not sure how many percent by which I increased my storage in the new office, but it is several hundred. We haven’t outgrown the storage yet, but we are using a lot of it.

    Remember to build in space for devices you don’t own. In the early 2000s it was fairly common to hear a doctor say, “I’d love to have a pano, but I don’t have any room in the office for it.” When you factor in what space costs, I feel it behooves a practice to have a bit of unused space they can grow into. Unfortunately, it seems the logic is frequently to use a smaller space and wedge as much into it as possible. Of course, the problem that develops with that philosophy is when a new piece of technology is added. Suddenly there is stress as the office tries to figure out how to accommodate something new. If it just cannot be done, the office now begins to fall behind the curve. Not having enough space is a very difficult problem to solve easily and affordably. It’s just so much better to have the space there ahead of time.

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    Do your homework

    It’s hard to predict everything that can affect your practice and its plans, but there is an old adage that will never be proven wrong. That adage is “failing to plan is planning to fail” or as Grandpa Flucke used to say, “there’s never time to do it right but there’s always time to do it over.” Smart man, my grandpa—he’s two for two in this article.

    To avoid these scenarios, it’s best to try and do as much research as you can to learn what new things are developing. For instance, you might not be interested in printing restorations at this point, but doing good research can give you enough information to allow you to plan for the potential of it being in your office. You can begin to understand the potential requirements from power to size and then have space pre-designed to use that.

    You may not want fancy dual-monitor setups in the treatment areas now, but planning for the buildout in infrastructure can aid your IT team in design. It will also make it much easier to upgrade to dual monitors in the future if you’ve done proper planning in the present. 

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    Dr. John Flucke
    Dr. John Flucke is in private practice in Lee’s Summit, Mo. He also serves as technology editor for Dental Products Report magazine and ...


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