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    Why your dental office design matters

    How good office design ­— even office design on a budget — can lead to more revenue.

    Excellent office design is more than making everything look nice and new. Dental professionals can use office design to increase productivity and profitability. With a focus on functionality and workflow, dental office design can translate into more revenue for your bottom line. 

    “Getting it right has so many benefits,” says Matthew McLaughlin, territory manager for Midmark. “Your ‘brand’ value goes up. Your office will be more efficient. You’ll be able to produce more dollars in the same amount of time with less stress.”

    An efficient workflow frees you up to produce more

    Jennifer Rhode, Integrated Design Studio manager for Henry Schein, says her team’s focus is on building a foundation of function and efficiency first and then fulfilling the practice’s wants and needs. 

    “Before we build out all the little niches and details, we want to make sure we have the core function of the space that it is efficient for patient traffic and also staff flow,” she says. 

    Ciarán Hynes, director of dental furniture product management at A-dec, and his team focus on patient throughput and workflow to minimize turnover time between patients. They design their equipment to facilitate intentional movement within the operatory, eliminating the need to go to different areas of the operatory that ultimately make room turnover more time-consuming. Once the patient leaves, staff can dispose of soiled materials on one side and then retrieve new barriers and supplies from a different part of the room with minimal back-and-forth movement.

    “When the team is efficient with turnover time between patients, by the end of the day the time gained may add up to allow for an additional patient to be seen, which can represent gains in productivity and revenue for the practice,” Hynes explains.

    Similarly, Hynes believes having designated consumable storage and instrument reprocessing areas centrally located in the practice affords long-term gains over the life of the practice. It improves the staff’s productivity by minimizing walking distances for those repetitive trips back and forth between operatories and supply areas of the practice.  

    “Instead of retrieving instruments and consumables at opposite ends of the building to operatories, in a centrally-located design individual replenishment trips are shorter, quicker and more efficient” he says.

    Related reading: 5 ways your office design can help (or hurt) your bottom line

    Dental officeSmall budgets have big possibilities

    For practices with a small budget, our experts have suggestions to help their money go far. McLaughlin says that practice owners shouldn’t assume they can’t afford to do something. Instead, he encourages dentists to get a dental office design professional and an equipment expert to consult. Together they can explore the possibilities for expanding the building or operatories in your practice.

    “There are lots of partners out there that know that dental is different and know what’s possible,” he explains. 

    Other areas to examine include small investments like carpet and paint, improving efficiency in the instrument processing center, or replacing equipment that’s more ergonomic than what’s on site currently. 

    “If your body breaks down, then the game is over. A lot of dentists out there have had an injury and can’t practice and now all that training is just for naught,” McLaughlin says. 

    Rhode says practices with small budgets should invest in their reception areas to make the best possible first impression. One significant improvement can be replacing the “wall of files” that used to be the backdrop of every practice reception area with a clean, modern look. 

    “There are a few things we can do to that area to update their desks and give a modern feel to it, like putting a logo on the focal wall or keeping the business space tucked behind so that you don’t have a direct line of vision into it,” Rhode says.

    Rhode also suggests bringing in the latest technology and preparing for the future. She recommends using forward thinking to plan, even if practice owners are considering selling the practice. “Make sure if you are selling that the next dentist coming in has the ability to expand their technology,” she says.  

    Trending article: Four things to expect in your office redesign


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