Optimize Your Healthcare Facilities for Patient Acquisition

Doctor and patient shaking hands.

Convincing new patients to choose you for their care is a journey – a journey that starts with the patient’s first appointment and develops through a series of good experiences with your clinic. Those positive results will typically point back to how well your office is optimized for patient acquisition.

That’s no small feat. These days patient interaction is skewed by your staff demeanor, your standard of care, the services you provide, insurance acceptance, and more. That also includes the design of your office which enhances or diminishes a patient’s impression of you, your team, and your skills.

Conscious Effort is Required to Attract New Patients

The cost of acquiring one new patient can total hundreds of dollars or more. Your total investment can vary from patient to patient depending on their responsiveness to either your office culture or future targeted marketing initiatives.

There’s also the competitive environment that hospitals and clinics exist in. Advertising campaigns can cross the line of sight of potential patients via direct mail pieces or online advertisements. Healthcare providers spend upwards of $10 billion on advertising a year in the US – that’s a lot of effort being poured into attracting new clients.

The conclusion that can be drawn from this is clear – the choice is in the hands of the patients!

And that is the problem you have to solve with your acquisition efforts – occupying a prominent place in their mind when they are making a choice about their health or their family’s care. You must be intentional in your actions to secure their attention and keep it.

Be Aware of the Environment You Have Created

Your physical space, clinic atmosphere, vibe, and overall culture can have a substantial impact on patient acquisition. New patients especially are discerning about specific things relative to your office environment.

  • Does the space mitigate their anxieties?
  • Does it feel like a safe and sterile environment?
  • Will satisfaction be consistent across satellite locations?

These factors align with what’s referred to as evidence-based design strategy. That’s the theory that you can create an office environment that helps you achieve the best possible healthcare outcomes.

And of course, this would strongly influence the acquisition of new patients.

The power of first impressions relies on how each patient feels the moment they encounter your practice. It could be the tone of a direct mailout, the glowing referral of a friend or online review, or the atmosphere of the office when they first walk in.

”Design choices matter. Approximately 24 to 35% of a patient’s overall satisfaction with a health care experience is influenced by the design and decor of the facility.” [1]

Design Details that Influence Patient Acquisition

Overall Design Details

Interior design and decor is important for setting a mood in your dental office.

Maximizing your office design extends from curb to exam room. Remember that one scheduled appointment doesn’t guarantee a second. Make a first impression that sticks like glue.

  • Apply conscientious design from the entrance to the reception to the exam & treatment areas.
  • Maintain and routinely upgrade your exterior and interior spaces.
  • Theme your office to connect with your patient demographic.

Create a Mood with Details in Your Front Office and Reception Area

The attention to detail you bring to establish the vibe of your entry areas will help your patients connect with your space. A pleasant and comfortable tone invites guests in and makes them feel at home. This feeling will have patients willing to begin establishing a long-term relationship with your practice. 

It has been amazing to see the overwhelmingly positive reaction of patients as they come in for treatment. Providing exceptional care and comfort are foundational to my practice. Since the installation, I have watched their joy increase immensely.

Dr. Clyde Maxwell

When creating a patient welcome area, there are a few things you should try to accomplish.

Welcome your patients to your office with a smile. Your receptionists are the first people your clients interact with, and as such, are the face of your company. Use your reception desk or check-in desk as a beacon to welcome them inside your space.

Include natural features such as plants, nature art, outdoor views, soft lighting, and skylights that utilize natural lighting effects. Provide patients with a comfortable place to relax their minds.

underwater themed waiting room with custom murals, whale sculpture and fish
Village Family Dental Surgery

Include elements like reading materials, free wi-fi, and especially in the case of pediatric areas, themed decor, etc.

An important part of your reception area is entertainment. Turning the wait time into a relaxing or even a fun time with amenities like free wifi, snacks, or games for kids is a great we to turn your office into a welcoming space.

A separate play corner or room for children in waiting areas creates a special space just for them (and a space where adults can relax without the noise of children). A welcoming space for children will reduce their anxiety, but also put their parents at ease knowing they are entertained and occupied, and in the end have them both looking forward to their appointments!

Pikeville Medical Center Children’s Hospital
Gunderson Health System
Andalusia Clinic for Kids Wellness

Ultimately, the intentions are to create a space that your clients enjoy visiting and are motivated to return to when a future need arises. Patients, whether children or adults, will acknowledge and appreciate that you put effort into their comfort and entertainment by paying attention to the spaces they will be using.

Extend Friendly Decor into Your Examination Spaces

Bring the journey beyond your waiting room and into the rest of your space with themed decor. Bright colors and landscape imagery promise your guests a distraction from their ailments if they choose your services. After time spent in your space, patients will know your priorities are giving top not services and a positive experience. 

Pediatric wards can especially benefit from transformative decor in exam and recovery areas. Young patients will feel at ease and parents will have a great distraction for their children. Here are some great examples of how themed office decor has transformed office spaces to create a positive pediatric patient experience.

Surf’s up in this exam room mural.
Jungle murals brighten up a sterile treatment room.
Patients will feel like they’re going on a walk through the wilderness in this treatment area hallway.

At the end of the day, it is the vibe you create in your business space that helps patients feel more engaged and in control of their relationship with you as their care provider.

Theming on the Building’s Exterior

Visibility, parking availability, ease of access, and exterior aesthetic are all factors that set the tone for patient acquisition success.

At IDS we are all about making the best first impressions for pediatric healthcare environments. We work with family-friendly businesses to design both big and small themed elements for the exterior of their locations. Whether it is a giant blue whale perched on top of a building, a pirate ship busting through the wall, or a quirky photo op, people will begin to associate your business with your theming choices… “They promise a friendly experience!” or “These people go above and beyond for their clients.”

And here’s the thing with exterior theming, suddenly your building is advertising for you 24/7. Exterior theming will not only attract new clientele but spread the word around town about who you are and what you do.

 “As a result of the theming, marketing has definitely improved. Even if patients cannot remember the name of the clinic, they know where we are and that our clinic is the fun place for kids to come play while they are waiting for their appointment. Telling patients it is the clinic with the giraffe and alligator is an easy visual landmark to help them find us. This has helped get new patients through the doors.”

– Sheryl Wright, Family Nurse Practitioner and Owner of Reelfoot Pediatrics

Relationship Development Details that Affect Patient Acquisition

Not all relationships start at a good place. In fact, for many health care appointments, there might already be a strike against you.

It’s nothing personal, it’s just that individual health is well, personal. Put in the work of creating the right environment and match that with good relational skills to help dissolve your patients’ natural existing anxieties.

Pay Personal Attention to Your Patients

It’s easy for patients to feel like a number in a long line of appointments you have throughout the day. Every patient interaction or conversation provides you an opportunity to deepen your relationship with them.

Your top relational skill is listening!

It helps to rely on your office design flow for enhanced listening. Meaning, that it’s a good idea to have patient conversations in a designated, comfortable consult area.

Patients will feel more at ease and you and your team members will be better equipped to truly listen to what your patients share with you.

This consult area is designed to put kids at ease as they sit with their parents.

You can also offer additional points of contact beyond an in-person exam and consultation. Making yourself or resources available to your patients beyond office hours will help them feel valued and connected.

Leverage Your Knowledge to Build Trust

Patients know it’s a good idea to take care of their physical health. But they’re often lacking the “why” behind it.

Trust is a defining element in any relationship, but is particularly central to the patient-physician relationship. Trust is built through knowledge and being able to convey that knowledge to your patients in a way they will understand. Patients who feel informed are more likely to have a positive experience. And that positive experience leads to an increase in your patient acquisition success.

  • Listen to their specific questions, and find a solution that is unique to them and their situation.
  • Encourage them to ask questions about your standard of care, technology, treatment outcomes, financials, and more. Freedom to inquire (without judgement) enhances the doctor-patient relationship.
  • Have resources available that they can take home or look up online beyond the appointment to help them feel empowered.

Patients who trust their healthcare providers are more likely to have longer relationships with their physicians.

Schedule the Next Appointment

Relationships require consistency. The same applies to maintaining health. Your intentional efforts to set a patient’s next follow-up appointment confirms that you consider their healthcare as a priority.

Staying connected to you and your office and their health maintains consistency that is essential. Those levels of consistency confirm that you’re on the path to increasing your patient acquisition percentages.

Keep in mind that acquiring patients is fundamentally a two-fold process. It is one part environment and one part relational.

Optimize your clinics around each and you’ll increase your successful patient acquisition.

Check out these related resources on these strategies that lead to an increase in patient acquisition:

6 Dental Office Images That Show How Intentional Design Impacts Patient Experience

What is Patient Experience and Why Does It Matter?

A Practical Guide to Creating an Exceptional Patient Experience

Contact Imagination Design Studios (IDS) to get started transforming your office from a mundane to magical patient experience.


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