On my flight to a dental conference recently, I sat next to a lovely man named Jerry. We got to chit-chatting about why we were traveling and he got to sharing that one year ago, he barely survived COVID. His daughter had planned a trip to Italy for him, his wife, and his future son in-law and so he got the vaccine as a preventative measure. Two weeks later, he found himself in the hospital, hanging on for life. His wife couldn’t visit obviously and he was in intensive care. Jerry’s wife got the call that it was the end and the chaplain was brought in to see him numerous times, everyone thinking he could not survive. Jerry said he and his doctor had basically given up. The hospital had done everything they could do for him medically and he just wasn’t improving. Thankfully, Jerry’s doctor had one last idea. He suggested a room change for Jerry. Jerry’s room was in a dingy part of the hospital, was dark and cramped and overlooked the roof. Nurses rarely interacted with him because it was such a process to get into his room (suit up fully to prevent catching the virus) so even when he called them, often they were not very available, not to mention they were short-staffed. Jerry’s new room was bright and airy and overlooked a field where he could see horses running and playing. Jerry swears that change saved his life as all of the sudden his attitude changed and he had the energy to fight the virus again. Jerry was able to go home a couple weeks after this change and he has made a full recovery. He has another trip to Italy planned for spring of 2023!
This is obviously an extreme case but it reveals how significant the atmosphere and feel of a space can be if it can completely change someone’s will to live and even their healing capabilities. What could this mean for hospitals and dental offices and other industries? We’ve seen it. Often we are told we have the most beautiful and relaxing dental office people have ever been in. It is such a huge compliment given we spent pain-staking hours on all of the details to get it just right. Because, guess what? Those details matter. When someone is anxious, everything gets amplified and anything you can do to create a calm and relaxing atmosphere will make an impact toward them having a better experience. From the exterior being well-kept to the wall colors, decor, seating arrangements in the lobby, it all matters.
So let me ask – Do you have clutter on your tables in your lobby? Do you have brochures sitting out cluttering up a counter or wall? What entertainment is playing, if any? Do you have the news going or a busy show, or worse, photos of dental procedures? Walk through the front door of your office and try to see your space through an anxious patient’s eyes. If you are too accustomed and don’t feel you can “see” the problem areas, I love to do what I call a Room Refresh where offices email me a photo and I help to point out areas that could easily be improved. Prepare your patients to have a great experience and create a space that they won’t dread! Pay attention to the details of your atmosphere as a first step to being more exceptional and harness the power of atmosphere for your benefit!