Owning a holistic, patient-centric practice is a pinnacle of practitioner achievement. In the promotion of empathy, placing your patients at the core of everything is the surest way to elevate patient experience and foster a lifetime relationship. At OPTIMA, our designers see and experience a dental environment the way a patient does, by walking a mile in their shoes. Here we share our thoughts on how to make the patient experience a central focus of your practice.
A good place to start when creating human-centric spaces, is to question yourself – How would you feel if you were a patient at your practice? Begin at a place that focuses not on form or function but empathy. Empathic design can be achieved through simple considerations: choose furniture that accommodates a wide variety of patients, create zones within your waiting room such as children areas and working space for professionals as well as offering an up-to-date wait time
Implementing technology that supports a seamless experience shows your patients that you respect their time. From installing self-check-in kiosks to decrease patient waiting times to sending automated appointment reminders and postoperative communication – streamlining these processes can also aid in relieving some of the anxiety that is felt with dental appointments.
When the human connection is felt through the physical environment you create, patients feel comfortable and valued, these feelings inspire loyalty and lead to repeat visitation.
Aesthetics are Emotive
Aesthetics has an immediate effect on the viewer; intuitively we know good design when we see it. There is a school of thought that we experience places as we do people “Their design is intended to induce the public to attribute essentially human qualities – competence, creativity, glamor, refined taste, caring – to the products and culture, the identity of a corporation. And it’s those qualities that we “buy” to enhance our own perceived identity.”
Up-scaled patient rooms have a tremendous appeal to patients, whether you choose statement pieces such as a beautiful piece of artwork to set the tone of the room, or you focus on bringing the outdoors in with greenery. Indoor plants not only instantly lift any space but there is a substantial body of academic research that has shown conclusively that having plants indoors reduces stress.
The key to creating elevated experiences for patients lies in how spaces feel in equal measure to how they look. In combination, a well-designed, empathic space will lead to an experience that connects with your patient not only resulting in repeat visitation but will be one that they choose to pass on by word of mouth.
The Success of Simplicity
At best simple design is tasteful, prominent and leaves room for self-expression. In the realm of design and architecture, this means creating spaces that allow people to modify the environment to suit their needs. Remove what is unnecessary, think clean lines, less is more, and pick one visual point.
Simplicity and minimalism exert a powerful analgesic, helping both the body and brain to relax, dental practices, in particular, cannot minimise the enjoyment of a serene, flexible, and simple space. Give your patients the gift of a peaceful encounter, where their relaxation is paramount and you will earn patients who relish coming to your practice.
The elevation of the patient experience is felt in the details. When there is time, thought and careful curation put into the patient experience from the first touchpoint to the moment they leave, that care is non-verbally expressed. OPTIMA understands what it means to create a practice that is truly patient-centered, together we will change the public perception of dentistry.
1 Robert Lamb Hart 2016, Architectural Empathy: Why Our Brains Experience Places Like People, https://www.metropolismag.com/architecture/architectural-empathy-why-our-brains-experience-places-like-people/