There are several reasons why the physical environment is so crucial for a positive patient experience. First impressions can have a significant impact on the perception a patient has of the practice, how they describe it to others and whether they want to return. The facilities and physical surroundings have also been directly linked to how patients perceive the quality of care provided 1.
A US study found that among the most common reasons cited for patient dissatisfaction in any healthcare setting were problems with the environment and amenities 2. Other research3 has also shown that a good ambience, cleanliness and the interior décor in healthcare environments are all associated with higher patient satisfaction and trust. In an emergency healthcare setting, it has been found that patients care most about overcrowding and privacy with regards to the physical environment 4.
Application in the dental practice
In order to optimise the patient experience in the dental practice, there are several aspects of the physical environment to consider. Think about the patient journey through the premises, from walking in the front door to visiting reception, sitting in the waiting room, entering the surgery and then their journey back out again.
Is the décor inviting all the way through? Does it promote the right ambience? What do they see first when they open each door? Are the chairs in the waiting area comfortable? Are there steps or tight corners that might make getting around difficult for some people? Are the corridors well-lit?
Even the smallest details can make a difference to what patients think of the practice. For instance, a very clean, pleasant smelling and well-designed washroom can really elevate a patient’s perception of the entire business. The Signature range from Initial Medical offers various washroom products from soap and hand sanitiser dispensers to air fresheners, toilet seat cleaner, paper towel and toilet paper dispensers. This portfolio is an excellent way of elevating your washroom aesthetic, reflecting your brand and showing patients that you go above and beyond to enhance their experience at every point.
The best environment for quality dental care
As mentioned, there are many ways in which the physical environment of the dental practice contributes to its success. To give your practice the best chance for success now and in the future, everything from the décor to the lighting and the washrooms should be functional and aesthetic. Don’t let your business down by forgetting about the small details!
- Obadan-Udoh, E, Ramoni, R, Van Der Berg-Cloete, S, White, G, & Kalenderian, E. (2019). Perceptions of quality and safety among dental patients. South African Dental Journal , 74(7), 374-382. https://dx.doi.org/10.17159/2519-0105/2019/v74no7a4
- Weingart SN, Pagovich O, Sands DZ, Li JM, Aronson MD, Davis RB, et al. Patient-reported service quality on a medicine unit. International Journal for Quality in Health Care 2006; 18(2): 95-101.
- Yun A, Khalilur RM, Shah N, Abu Issa G, Atikur R, Al MA, Xia C. Determinants of patients’ satisfaction and trust toward healthcare service environment in general practice clinics. Frontiers in Psychology. 2022; 13. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2022.856750 ISSN=1664-1078
- Rowe A, Knox M. The Impact of the Healthcare Environment on Patient Experience in the Emergency Department: A Systematic Review to Understand the Implications for Patient-Centered Design. HERD: Health Environments Research & Design Journal. 2023;16(2):310-329. doi:10.1177/19375867221137097