If there’s one thing all experienced business consultants have in common—it’s a keen eye for detail.
When I enter a practice for the first time, I like to envision myself in the shoes of a patient walking into an unfamiliar office. While the aesthetics of the space are important, the demeanor and cleanliness of the staff speak volumes about the practice as well. A friendly, professional staff can put patients at ease while simultaneously instilling a sense of trust and confidence. Plus, happy employees are typically a strong indication of an honest practice that puts the patients’ well-being and health goals before profit.
In addition to assessing the staff, I like to focus on the reception/patient waiting area. Since most patients will likely spend time in this space, creating a relaxing, inviting area it’s another wonderful way to leave a positive, lasting impression. The furniture in this space should be both clean and functional. What do I mean by this? Let me give you an example. I once visited a practice that had a row of gorgeous, blue velvet chairs placed in the center of the reception area. Although the chairs were certainly eye-catching and appeared comfortable from a distance, they were covered in so many stains that I was deterred from sitting. In addition, there wasn’t a single piece of furniture in the entire space where one could place a beverage, snack, laptop, purse, etc. This left patients with no choice but to hold onto all of their belongings during their wait or to set them on the floor for others to potentially trip over. If the furniture in the lobby is visually pleasing but isn’t functional, it can ultimately detract from the overall patient experience instead of enhancing it. Since most people will feel some uneasiness about being in a healthcare office, the ultimate goal is to create a space that will help them feel comfortable and optimistic.
My recommendations are to select furniture that can still look presentable even after a little wear and tear. Accidents will happen, whether it’s from a child’s crayon, spilled beverage, or wet raincoat, so it’s a good idea to pick furniture that can be cleaned easily. Keep in mind that it’s a healthcare office, not the cover of “Home & Design” magazine. It’s also a good rule of thumb to utilize accessible end tables or a long coffee table near the chairs and/or couch in the patient waiting area for people to place their belongings easily. Another way to brighten your space and create an inviting atmosphere is to place a vase of fresh flowers on the reception desk or scatter potted succulents around the patient waiting area. From a hot cup of coffee to a kind smile from a receptionist—it truly is the little things that mean the most to a patient. While these are only a few of the areas within an office that I analyze, they are some of the most important because a good first impression can go a long way in instilling confidence in your business and ultimately generating referrals.