Spring cleaning may be another several weeks away, but it is never too early to take a good look at the space your patients gather the most. In this article, we’re going to share several ways you can spruce up your waiting room to help put patients at ease and make them feel more comfortable about scheduling a return visit.
Rethink before and after pictures
Let’s be honest: many patients don’t look forward to visiting the dentist. One study revealed that 61% of people worldwide suffer from some degree of dental anxiety, including one out of three Americans. Some even experience dentophobia, which is a severe fear of seeing a dentist.
So while posting “before” images of dental work showcases the amazing work your team does, it also may have the unintended consequence of making nervous patients even more uneasy. The same goes for images of dental equipment. While some offices may want to display the history of technological dental advances, some patients might find the sight of an antiquated piece of equipment quite unsetting.
Instead, consider replacing those images with calming artwork. You can also lean into the mental health benefits of nature by adding some indoor plants or installing a fish tank or small fountain fixture. These are all great ways to give your patients’ wandering eyes something relaxing to land on.
Swap in a soft paint color
Many medical offices are associated with white, sterile walls. You can buck this trend by painting your walls (or even just one accent wall) a gentle color. Blues are often used in the medical industry because they represent peace and tranquility. Greens are also a good choice because they reflect freshness and rejuvenation…just like a freshly-cleaned mouth!
Whether you fully buy into the effects of color psychology or not, there is no denying that your patients will be more relaxed if they are in an environment that feels more comfortable.
Restock your reading materials
Are your waiting room magazines still offering advice from 2018? In an age when most patients are probably scrolling through their smartphones, updating magazine subscriptions might not seem like a priority. But those who are looking to disconnect before their appointment should have something to read other than a four-year-old golfing magazine.
If you still like the idea of magazines, try choosing a select few subscriptions that have broad appeal, like sports, travel, entertainment and children’s stories. Or you could ditch subscriptions entirely in favor of “coffee table-style” books with beautiful photography.
Make your office smartphone friendly
Let’s go back to those smart-phone scrolling patients. If you want to make a great impression, set up your waiting room with wireless devices in mind. You can offer a public Wi-Fi hotspot or scatter some charging stations throughout the waiting area.
While it may seem like a small gesture, offering little boosts like these can go a long way for your patients, especially those who had to rush after work or drive a distance for their appointment.
Give the kids something to do
Your youngest patients rarely hold still. And when they know they are about to sit in a dentist’s chair for an extended period of time, they may be extra wiggly. You can help keep them busy (and their parents less stressed!) by having some kid-friendly activities on hand in their own little waiting area nook.
Some ideas include:
- Youth-sized chairs and table
- Activity sheets
- Books and magazines
The bottom line: Waiting rooms can be uncomfortable, especially for patients who may be nervous about their appointment. By sprucing up your space, you can help others feel at ease and more likely to schedule a return visit.