Dr. Steven Koos: Why I don’t hide my practice’s sterilization area

March 17, 2014
Kevin Henry

Issue 2

Dr. Steven Koos looks out of the window of his Chicago oral and maxillofacial surgery practice he opened in 2008 and sees change on the horizon.

Dr. Steven Koos looks out of the window of his Chicago oral and maxillofacial surgery practice he opened in 2008 and sees change on the horizon.

“As both a physician and dentist, I want to bridge the gap in the dental industry,” said Dr. Koos, director of ORA Oral Surgery and Implant Studio and an oral and maxillofacial surgeon who holds both dental and medical degrees.

“We are at the forefront of a major paradigm shift in health care, and I hope to help transform the dental industry.”

Part of that paradigm shift comes from not only Dr. Koos’ views on medical-dental collaboration, but also on the importance of practicing eco-friendly dentistry and showing off the sterilization area to his patients.

He explains his views in our interview.

When you were planning your office design, what were the things that were important to you?

Creating a distinctly unique experience to change the perception and stereotype of the typical dental and medical visit.

We successfully accomplished this by infusing sustainability, incorporating evidence-based design (EBD), and laying down the foundation for eco-friendly dentistry. We wanted to ensure a comfortable, non-toxic environment for patients and our team to deliver the safest and most effective health care possible.

While planning the office design, the sterilization area and use of our instrument management system (IMS) in the practice was very important to us.

What is the main feeling you want your patients to get when they walk through your doors?

An atmosphere that is modern, tranquil and inviting. I wanted a feeling of relaxation and warmth despite being surrounded by state-of-the-art medical and surgical equipment and areas of sterility.

Again, by having our sterilization area in a prime, visible location, we are letting our patients know up front that their safety is important to us and we are happy to answer any questions they might have. We recognize the importance of safety to our patients and didn’t want to hide the sterilization center in the background where it would never be seen by anyone other than our staff.

Your sterilization area is in a prime location. Why did you feel it was important to have it so visible?

Infection control, sterility and cleanliness are top priorities to patients. Every office that I have ever seen essentially hides their sterilization area behind doors and in an area that is not a common walkway. I wanted to turn that concept completely around when designing my facility.

We prominently feature our central sterilization area within our main patient hallway in a chic and stylish way, so that patients immediately recognize this. Utilization of Hu-Friedy’s infection control products and instrument management system not only ensures that my patients and team members are safe, but also helps our practice stay organized and save money because we aren’t replacing instruments as often.

You seem very proud to have the world’s first and only “green” oral surgery practice. Why is that important to you?

The concept of green health care has been adopted for some time now within medicine and hospitals throughout the country. As a physician and dentist, I felt that it was important to champion these principals and carry them into the private practice sector.

In the dental community, sustainable practices were essentially non-existent.

What are some “green” tips you could pass along to your colleagues?

There needs to be a paradigm shift within the standard practice of your office with design, purchasing, processing, sterilization, bio-hazardous waste elimination, and patient care.

For instance, Hu-Friedy has a number of eco-friendly products and also established the Environdent program, which is an instrument recycling program that has made a huge impact.

Click here to learn more about the Environdent Program.

A “culture change” and commitment from the doctor and management are necessary to truly implement sustainability.  The journey toward significant carbon footprint reduction does not need to be daunting - create a green team, set incremental goals, and enjoy the process!

How do you feel the look of an office plays a role in a patient’s acceptance of the dentist and his or her treatment? Or does it?

It is absolutely crucial in a patient’s decision-making process nowadays. First impressions are critical and the quality of a facility and its equipment are an integral factor in new patient acquisition and acceptance of treatment planning.

Representation of this online is paramount as well, because this is where most patients develop their first impressions and make initial choices. Your practice has to shine and stand out. A good analogy would be to take an ordinary watercolor painting and professionally mat it and frame it.

Suddenly this piece has become more impactful, presentational, attractive, and of “museum quality.”