Building the Future Today: How to Automate Office Design for Tomorrow

Written by: Paul Vigario
office design


Is your dental office prepared to meet the desires of the next generation now? Let’s face it. Any of us over 40 still think of millennials as kids. The young guns. Office design, marketing, and messaging are largely geared toward baby boomers. The reality is that millennials have partners, careers, mortgages, and children of their own.

Consumer behavior has changed drastically over the last decade, embracing technological capabilities once believed to only exist in science fiction. Baby boomers, Generation X, and millennials have adopted Uber, Starbucks, Vimeo, and many others. With Generation Z now in their twenties, they are graduating college, jumping into the job pool, and spending a whopping 7.2 hours a day on technology1.

Daily life is not guided by science fiction. It’s been a reality for them since they were born.

Regardless of the industry, many companies have successfully influenced human behavior to not only expect but demand an efficient, seamless, and personalized experience.

Software apps and how companies use big data have taught us as a collective that our wants and needs will be anticipated. As a business, it is our duty to meet these expectations. If not, people will go somewhere that does without hesitation.

Healthcare often falls behind on patient-centric innovation. Yet we are in a unique position to revolutionize care like never before through automation. With recent advances in dental technology, HIPAA-compliant systems and communication, and the freedom of fee-for-service, we can transform the patient experience.

Here are three strategic areas you can automate to generate strong and consistent revenue growth year over year.

office design

Building the Future Today: How to Automate Office Design for Tomorrow

1. Automate Reciprocity

When you walk into your dental practice, scan the waiting room. Does it look like the Department of Motor Vehicles?

Vincent Spinella, a dental technology specialist at SurfCT, said, “If you visit an upscale lounge or a fine hotel, the areas you will wait in are plush. They have a small table with a couple of chairs around it. You don’t see 20 chairs lined up in a row.”

The mentality of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is prevalent in healthcare, and with good reason. However, people are immersed in experiences outside of dentistry, and you can blow the minds of your patients by setting a completely different tone as soon as they open the door.

“I was inexperienced when I built my first practice, and after a few years, our whole patient experience felt disjointed,” explains Dr. Olesya Salathe of The Dentist Off Main. “I realized that, as crazy as it sounds, it’s not about teeth. It’s not about how much technology you have. It’s how you make a patient feel. So, when I decided to build a new practice, I took every single patient interaction point into consideration.”

Let’s make patients comfortable. It is bad enough that patients have a negative connotation with the dentist, so let’s remove some of those feelings in how we design the space. In a traditional office setting, the patient enters, goes up to a window, gives their name and insurance, and is told to go sit in a chair and wait.

With automation, we can shift this experience into one that is concierge focused and will give the front desk team the opportunity to build relationships rather than assign a seat.

Dr. Victoria Peterson, CEO of Productive Dentist Academy, says, “Process automation leverages the talents of your team. Technology allows our people to focus on relationships rather than paperwork.”

Before the patient comes into the office, collect as much information about them as you can. The technical logistics are important: insurance, medical history, and new patient forms. But the real chance available to you is providing the opportunity to collect information that builds relationships. A great first start is to ask a patient what their favorite music and drink are.

However, we can go deeper:

  • On a scale from 1-10, how happy are you with your smile?
  • On a scale from 1-10, how happy are you with your face?
  • Have you ever considered Botox?

With questions like these, we are starting to read the story of this person before we meet them.

When we collect this data ahead of time, there is so much more space to serve, listen, and build a relationship.

Imagine how you will feel the next time you go into a dental practice and are handed a beverage of your choice and invited to relax in a lounge experience.

It’s a lot different than someone pointing to a cold beverage station lined with 20 chairs around it.

2. Clinical Automation for Associates

As an entrepreneur and business owner, it’s imperative to put your team in the best position to succeed. The idea that any associate joining your team is going to be as good as you are is ridiculous. This can cause tension for everyone.

You can automate safeguards to ensure no damage is caused to the business relationship, or patients.

Start with the end in mind. Why do you want your associate? Is it to take on a full day so you can spend that time with your family or focusing on other revenue streams? What would your ideal scenario look like? How could you revise the schedule to meet your needs?

Then, identify the type of patient that is perfect for your associate.

  • What is their age?
  • What is the state of their mouth?
  • What are their goals?

Chances are, you’d never knowingly put a $100,000 case in front of your associate, who won’t have a clue what to do. Leverage your technology and automation so you can get a clear picture of the patient that’s about to come in and adjust the schedule so you each receive patients that will be eager to say yes to your level of care.

3. Automate the Consultation Experience

Just like the rigid vision of what a waiting room “should” look like, it’s time to take the proverbial handcuffs off the patient who is stuck in the dental chair.

“It’s time to take the patient out of the dental chair,” explains Dr. Chase Larson of Chase Inspired Dentistry. “In our newly designed dental practice, you can have a conversation with patients in a collaborative environment where they are at ease and comfortable, which puts them in the best position to say yes to care.”

There are tools and technology available to convey your message in a way that your words never will. By introducing visuals into the patient education process, your chances of making a connection are vastly higher. The goal is to make everything feel seamless and without friction.

When we accomplish that, the patient will believe their treatment will feel the same way.

For example, you can sync your imaging software to integrate with your iPad technology so you can pull up patient photos in real-time. You can start drawing on the iPad to visibly show a patient what crown lengthening means.

This makes the job of the patient so much easier. They are not left struggling to try to understand what crown lengthening means. They now have a visual right in front of them that does the heavy lifting.

Dr. Joseph Camarata, both a plastic surgeon and dentist of Aesthetic Surgical Arts, explains, “Technology in dentistry has evolved, and so have patient expectations. As an oral and plastic surgeon, I have many different procedures and modalities. I recognized a critical desire for all my technology to integrate seamlessly. To accomplish my vision, I sought out a design and technology company that understands everything is connected. Now I can take 3D imaging and 3D facial scanners and maneuver my modalities within the technology, so I am efficient with every treatment.”

Building the future in your dental practice is simple when you remove the boundaries of a traditional healthcare office visit. Technology is now setting the standard for all our generations, and by taking a helicopter view of the patient experience, you can blend design and technology so your patients are eager to see you for years to come.




Paul Vigario is an American entrepreneur, healthcare technologist, keynote speaker, and advisor. He is considered a pioneer for introducing technology systems in dental practice and dental office automation. Vigario is a serial entrepreneur who has founded a number of companies and products including SurfCT, a world renowned dental technology integration company.

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