*beyond what just looks good!
‘Dental practice design ideas’ is a commonly searched term for dentists looking for visual inspiration when planning for their dream practice. It’s always an exciting time when you envision your end goal and how beautiful the look and feel of your new dental practice could be. However, picking the perfect colour palette to match your branding shouldn’t be all you consider when designing a dental practice.
When gathering inspiration for modern dental practice design ideas, it’s important to keep in mind that a great looking dental practice that has neglected functional design elements, is not a great practice overall. Functionality, accessibility and parking is typically be less exciting to plan or design than choosing the colours, flooring, light fixtures, etc. And while the end user is less likely to notice these design elements, they are equally, if not more important to a successful dental practice.
So, outside of the things that make your dental practice look spectacular, what other design elements need to be considered?
Making your dental practice easy to find and navigate for your patients is essential to a successful practice. Wayfinding refers to the signage and information externally and within the practice that is used to guide people through your dental environment. Put simply, it’s design that helps your patients find their way!
Wayfinding is often overlooked in smaller practices, with owners often failing to put themselves in the position of a new patient entering the practice for the first time. While you are very familiar to your workplace, the last thing a patient wants is to be confused and stressed at the beginning of their visit.
When wayfinding is implemented during the early design stages of a dental practice, the positive outcomes will be ongoing, such as:
- Reduced patient stress / frustration
- Increased accessibility
- Increased practice safety
If your patients do not have to think about the process, or even notice how they were guided through the spaces, it usually means your wayfinding has been effectively designed and implemented in your practice.
Dental practice wayfinding symbols and text can also be integrated with your branding and colour scheme to seamlessly flow with the overall aesthetic of your modern dental practice design.
The ability for all persons to access your dental practice is imperative and will often shape many aspects of a dental practice’s design.
‘Accessibility’ refers to physical, communication, and mental access. The design of your dental practice can either help or hinder people in each of these categories.
Long before you even see a patient, accommodating patient needs to improve their experience is essential. From the appointment making process, to physically entering your space, accessibility must be considered at every touchpoint.
You need patients in your chairs to be making money. Your patients need a place to park when they visit. A major gripe with many dental practice patients is difficulty accessing parking. Again, making the process of visiting a dentist as stress-free and seamless as possible is key to building a list of ongoing, happy patients.
Some considerations around parking to assist your dental practice design ideas:
- Supply vs demand – How many patients can you service at any given time? Per hour. Per day. In the chair plus in the waiting room. What are your peak times and patient numbers?
- Will you be sharing parking with other tenants? Or will you have a car park dedicated to your business?
- How many patients visit via car vs public transport? And how accessible is public transport to the facility?
- Compliance/zoning regulations – minimum parking requirements and accessibility/ disabled parking spaces.
- Does your parking allow for safe flow of traffic?
- If you are renovating an existing space, does the current parking situation meet your planned customer demands?
A critical (but not obvious) design consideration is human-centred design – that entails understanding an individual’s problem, and provide a solution through design.
An example of this may be:
Understanding that many patients have fear/anxiety around visiting the dentist – and hearing dental instruments in the waiting room can heighten these feelings/tensions. Ensuring you design to soundproof all treatment areas to improve the overall patient experience.
There are countless touchpoints throughout a user’s journey through your dental practice that can be analysed and positively affected at the design phase.
While the above list may not be the first design elements you consider for your new dental practice – and won’t be the most obvious to your patients – considering them as early as possible will save you and your patients many headaches and stress down the track.