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A different point of view

Nov. 4, 2011
Janice Hurley-Trailor, Dentistry’s Image Expert, says we must look at our dental office from a patient’s perspective: high, low, and all around. She points out specific areas we may take for granted that actually matter to patients.

By Janice Hurley-Trailor, the Image Expert

We’ve heard, “If we want to understand someone, walk a mile in those moccasins” — or sneakers! Let’s apply that to our patient’s everyday experiences in the dental practice and take a look from the patient’s literal viewpoint. Look high. Look low. Look all around.

Looking up

On the high side, when your patients are tipped back in your chair and they look up, besides that bright light shining in their eyes, what do they see?

  • Old posters of cartoon characters?
  • Leaky ceiling tiles?
  • Twirling teeth on a mobile?
  • Chipping ceiling paint?
  • Old television screens?
  • Other eyesores?
It’s easy to forget about what’s on a ceiling, and I have proof! My parents once bought a home with hideous wallpaper on the kitchen ceiling. Neither liked it, so they planned to replace it “right away.” Year after year, as I returned home to visit my parents, I would ask about their plans to replace the kitchen ceiling paper until the time my Mom answered, “You know, I just don’t notice it anymore.” That can happen in our hygiene treatment rooms. We either forget what our patients see when they inspect our ceilings, or we don’t notice when something needs repair or replacement. You’ll also want to double-check these details:
  • The cleanliness of your own glasses or loupes
  • The cleanliness of the overhead light
  • The cleanliness of the protective glasses you hand your patients; no scratches please
Looking downFinding an effective cleaning service for your dental facility might be a challenge. Keeping that service as a priority in the budget can be another. Many times when it’s time to cut practice overhead, we look at reducing what is spent on cleaning services. There is certainly no guarantee, but sometimes you do get what you pay for. In whatever way your cleaning is handled, be sure you inspect your facilities from the patient’s perspective. Make sure your space is immaculate clear down to the base of your chairs and the tightest corners.
Looking aroundHow would you describe the overall esthetics of your treatment room? Do you have equipment that appears dated? Do any dental chairs or X-ray heads creak and groan when you move them? Patients do look at the ceiling, the floors, the carpet, the cabinets, the equipment, and your glasses. After all, we give patients plenty of time to look up, down, and all around the treatment room, so expect them to notice things we take for granted. Check out your treatment room through the eyes of a first-time patient, and be prepared to make a great impression from every angle. Author bioJanice Hurley-Trailor is known as Dentistry’s Image Expert on personal presence. She has more than 25 years of experience as a dental consultant helping professionals use the tools they have to gain higher treatment acceptance and attract quality patients. Her goal is that everyone understands how to better use his or her professional energy for success. She is an international author and speaker on what it takes to project professional excellence and confidence so others feel it instantly.