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3 Keys to Office Design for a Successful Pediatric Practice

This article was written and published for ChiroEconomics. See it here

When you have a practice that is focused on families and primarily Pediatrics, what do you need to consider in the design of your office to increase your success?
Parents are looking for safe and effective ways to support their children’s health and development. Chiropractic care has been shown to have many benefits for kids. However, as a pediatric chiropractor, it’s not just about providing the best care possible, but you also need to create an inviting and comfortable space for your young patients and their parents.
We believe there are 3 main keys to making sure your practice is successful.

#1 Attracting the Ideal Patient

The key to designing the interior of a pediatric practice is to create a space that will attract and retain the ideal patient. In this case, it will be BOTH the child and their parent.
You must first consider whether your patients are attracted to the space when they enter. What is their perspective?
• Children will look to see if it is inviting and easy to explore.
• Parents will assess the safety and suitability of the environment for their children.
• Parents will make the final decision about the space (and your practice) based on how their children feel and react to it.
To start, since if the children are happy is the foundation of the the parents being happy, how can you achieve this positive experience for the child?
A child’s first thought is, “Where can I easily play and have fun?”
Is it wall mounted toys, or the floor play area, or the iPad or reading station they want to run to first? Are there inviting bright colors, playful patterns, and fun artwork? Does it feel comfortable for my size?
The furnishings and equipment should be scaled for the child if you want the child to feel comfortable and trust you. The smaller, more appealing equipment is an easy way to get them there. Other ideas include low windows so they can see and small doors just for them.
Colors should be bright, energetic, and vibrant. Practitioners typically choose cooler colors, but if you go with vibrant, warm colors, use them sparingly – reds and oranges tend to excite too much. You can also use the colors for wayfinding through the office or designating rooms.

These features should not only be limited to the lobby but should also be present in all areas where younger patients will be.

#2 Retaining your Ideal Patient

Next, focus on the parent. Retention starts when parents are comfortable in the space – no added stress. Even better, can it be an oasis? This will attract them and make them want to come back.
First, you’ll want to make sure the space is clean and organized to instill confidence in parents that you take hygiene seriously. Think about it—the cleanability and sustainability of the items in your practice will translate into how comfortable the parent will feel being in the space.
What are they sitting on? The fabrics and upholstery should be easy to clean. We suggest easy-to-clean, vinyl and cryptons, solution-dyed fabrics as well as a washable wall covering or paint.
Do parents have concerns for their children breaking or damaging things in your office? Could the child get hurt? Parents will feel more comfortable if things that could be of danger to the child are not easily reached. These things would be sliding glass doors, exit doors, water elements, and electrical elements (such as light switches that are too easy, too accessible, and too attractive to the child).
Creating spaces and places that are kid-inviting and kid friendly will achieve the goals of both attracting and retaining you ideal patients.

#3 Creating a Successful Layout

Now that you’ve attracted and made both your ideal patients feel comfortable and secure, it’s important to consider the layout of your practice, so that you are comfortable with these patients in your space, and it supports your overall goals.
Your first consideration in your layout is this: If you have a dedicated children’s area, who is going to be responsible for supervising that area? If you put the space in the lobby and you’re adjusting the parent in the back, the staff at the front desk then must supervise the children.
Where is the best place for the children’s area? It depends on your business model and where you need the children occupied.
If your business model is to have your existing patients quickly come into your treatment space, then your treatment area needs to have that contained area where the parent is also responsible for the child. If you need time for treating the parent alone, we suggest having a child’s area close to or within the adjusting area and treatment areas (instead of the lobby). If your business model is focused on a larger waiting area, and the parents never being alone, then the lobby will work and then the children will just stay with their parents during the rest of the space. Regardless, having something in each one of the spaces for children to be occupied will help control the supervision situation.

Regardless of where you place the children’s area, you need to consider acoustics. Happy children make noise, and we have discussed that you do want happy children. So, you need to ensure that they will not disrupt anything that requires focus and quiet. For example, if your massage room or report of findings room is nearby, you need to ensure that the noise from the children’s area won’t disrupt these areas.
In conclusion, creating a well thought through space is crucial in a pediatric chiropractic office. By applying these ideas in the 3 three keys to 1) attracting the ideal patient and their parent, 2) ensuring your ideal patients are comfortable in the space, and 3) designing the flow to ensure that you are comfortable with these patients in your space, you can create a thriving, successful practice.

Carolyn Boldt is personally passionate about holistic health and wellness, and an outspoken advocate that the environment of your space impacts your success. With over 40 years of experience in the commercial interior industry, she holds a BS in Interior Architectural Design from University of Texas at Austin, is NCIDQ Certified, a Registered Designer, a LEED AP, and Professional Member of IIDA/International Interior Design Association. 

In 2004, she and her husband, Scott, co-founded CrossFields as a design-build firm in Atlanta. In 2011 they changed their focus to expand the impact of holistic health by elevating the public’s image of alternative medicine through virtually creating outstanding healing environments nationwide.

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