As a patient as well as dental consultant, I appreciate neatness in the office
Janice Hurley-Trailor, the Image ExpertNo one needs to tell you what it takes to prepare your room for each patient. You clean, you clear, you prepare.
Thank you for all those immaculate counters, trays, glasses, and sink areas that protect everyone’s health and assure patients that your environment is hygienic.
Thank you for showing the visible surface barriers when laying out your instruments and organizing the glasses, X-ray equipment, hand mirror, and fluoride trays in a wonderful visual of your hard work and preparation.
Thank you for the sights and scents of an immaculate environment. Some of you even use aromatherapy. Some of you use warm towels and scent them with natural oils to give to patients as they complete treatment.
Thank you for wrapping the top of your patient’s chair in plastic coastor covering it with their own paper chair cover, communicating to each patient that you prepared the room especially for them.
Thank you for covering your keyboard with a thin piece of plastic and removing your gloves when you touch a patient’s chart. Thank you for covering the small handle that adjusts your chair with a surface barrier.
Thank you for making sure your room has a trashcan equipped with a foot pedal or automatic lid.
Thank you looking at your room from the point of view of your patient and remedying anything that is not the optimal perception you want to create. Thank you for noticing what patients see when they enter your room, hanging up their coats, and stowing their personal items. Thank you for being sure patients enjoy the view from your chair: front, left, right, and up.
Thank you for advocating for regular window cleaning.
Thank you for encouraging hardwood floors when possible because they’re easier to keep clean than carpet.
Thank you for keeping your counters free of clutter, especially when you’ve been asked to display point of purchase product information. Hmm. Some of you say you are stumped by that last one? Could you use some new ideas?
Instead of allowing your hygiene counter to resemble a drugstore checkout counter, you can protect your optimally clean environment by limiting displays to no more than 12 inches of counter space. Instead, keep those helpful brochures on everything from understanding periodontal disease to financing options attractively arranged in your cupboards and drawers. You can then personally select the items that best fit each patient’s needs.
This makes printed materials readily available to your patients without allowing the items to become cluttered and tacky. This arrangement has two positive results — your counters are cleared of items you can’t clean properly, and your patients are more likely to follow through with suggestions you make through personal invitation.
Now, you or the doctor might be concerned that it’s “out of sight, out of mind,” and that’s somewhat valid. But my experience has taught me quite the opposite. When products and marketing materials are continually visible to us, they actually become invisible and we become immune to them. With your full load of responsibilities and trying to fit everything into your allotted time, the materials are usually ignored. So instead, my recommendation is that as you prepare the room, choose one product or marketing item you think the next patient would benefit from, and lay that piece on the counter before you bring the patient back. Then, after you see something in their mouth or hear something new about their needs, you can reach into your organized drawers and tell a patient how important this information can be for his or her health and happiness.
Dental offices have different cultures pertaining to housekeeping procedures, but I strongly believe it’s a subject worth addressing with your team. If your doctor’s primary goal with the pamphlets is to promote patient education, then you will best accomplish this by creating an organized and personalized approach.
So where was I before I went off on clutter information? Your patients have no idea how thorough your efforts are in cleaning and preparing the room, but you and I both know.
Scented warmers and warm towels make a wonderful impression indeed, especially when this matches the visual aspect of your patients’ experience with you. Every inch of your treatment room shows how much you value cleanliness and how well you prepared to welcome patients.
Again, thank you for everything —all the instruments you scrub and sharpen, the drawers you organize, and the countertops you clean. Thank you for your technical expertise, and the way you gift wrap that expertise with everything else you do. Thank you for looking the professional part in your dress and grooming. Thank you for your tact, compassion, and communication skills.
As a patient as well as a dental consultant, I appreciate you!
Janice Hurley-Trailor, BS, is a Dentistry’s Image Expert. Contact her at www.janicehurleytrailor.com.
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