February 19, 2011
When was the last time, Doctor, that you entered your office reception area through the front door just the way your patients do? Many of you enter the office by a rear or private entrance to avoid walking through a reception area filled with patients. I would like to suggest a reality check. Imagine yourself as a new patient entering your office for the first time.
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Is everything immaculately clean? Look closely at the woodwork-is it chipped or damaged? Is any of the wall paper stained or peeling? Sit down in a chair and slowly look around. Any cobwebs in the corners? Are the windows clean? When was the last time the outside of the windows was professionally cleaned? What is your honest impression of the artwork on the wall? What about the ceiling tiles-any stains? Is the carpet worn? Do the plants look thirsty? How current are the magazines? Are they interesting-perhaps what you would choose if you had a choice? How does it smell in your reception area? Are there any odors of dental materials? Any odors from a nearby kitchen area?
Not get up and go into to the patient restroom. Is it pristinely clean? Well lit? Is it well stocked with toilet paper and toweling? Is the soap dispenser full-how about bathroom spray? One of my pet peeves is that there probably is not a hook in the bathroom, either on a wall or on the back of the door, to hang a jacket.
Studies show that new patients begin to form an impression of you as a doctor within 30
seconds of entering the reception area. And within five minutes, they are already thinking about whether they will stay in the practice. If they are not warmly and enthusiastically greeted by a staff member, they may imagine you as cold, aloof and uncaring. If the reception area is messy or dirty or cluttered, wouldn’t it be reasonable to assume that the clinical area is just the same?
Let’s make the correct initial impression by making the reception area a conversation piece-from the decor down to the smallest detail. My feeling is that if it has been five years or more since the reception area was decorated, you are overdue for an upgrade.
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