After a long time out of the office, we are starting to get back to the building we all used to spend the majority of our waking hours in. We are getting it straightened up again; after a long time of sporadic visits to collect the post and make sure everything is as it should be.
Although most dental practices have been open for a while and didn’t have such a long period of time with no activity in them, they may still need to be refreshed. When was the last time you did a walk through your practice from the perspective of a new patient?
From a patient’s point of view, from the car park to the surgery, walk in their footsteps through your practice. Use your senses and think, what more could I do to ensure I communicate the standards patients can expect from this practice?
When you arrive at the practice, is the signage clear? Having a clear sign outside has many benefits but not least helping people easily identify where they need to go. Is the practice welcoming from the outside or are there now Covid warning posters all over the windows warning patients not to step inside the practice? While these notices are important and serve a clear purpose, they can be displayed more aesthetically to ensure they fit with the branding at the practice.
When you walk in the door, does the practice feel comfortable? If it was raining, freezing cold or sunny outside would you be able to ensure patients weren’t walking into an uncomfortable environment. Who is responsible to ensure the practice is at the right temperature and the floor isn’t wet or dirty throughout the day?
Does the practice look good? This includes all paintwork and lighting, it’s so simple to ensure the walls aren’t dingy and all bulbs are working in the light fittings but would be noticeable for a patient walking in for the first time. Are the practice, consultation rooms and surgeries tidy and clear from clutter? Make sure the reception desk is clear and looks organised at all times as this is likely the first thing patients will see when they walk in. Look around the walls, are there outdated posters or notices that need to be replaced or that don’t need to be there? We’ve seen practices littered with threatening notices that set patients on edge rather than giving them valuable information.
Does the practice smell clean? If your treatment coordinator consultation room is also a lunch room for example, make sure no smelly food or drinks are consumed there. Don’t have a rubbish bin full of dirty packaging as it will likely smell. Make sure the patient facilities are clean and have soap or sprays in there to ensure they are hygienic at all times.
Does the practice sound relaxing? You don’t want the phone ringing or drilling from the surgery next door being overbearing when you’re in the waiting room. Make a patient hub that is separate to ensure phones aren’t left to ring and ring while your busy receptionist deals with the person in front of them. If the waiting room is loud and chaotic it will set the tone for the rest of the appointment.
All of these things are first impressions for the practice. Your patient may have made up their mind before they speak to you if the practice doesn’t communicate what you want it to. When you walk around, make notes of the improvements and delegate the actions to your team. If you have a treatment coordinator, make sure they are regularly doing this to ensure the practice is maintaining the high standards.