The power of first impressions: Part 1

Understand the power of first impressions

Understand the power of first impressions

When new patients call for an appointment, that phone call is their first impression of your practice, so it should be welcoming and professional.

And just as important is their first visual impression of your office.

Does your office reflect prestige and respect, or present a cold atmosphere and a lack of confidence? If the patient’s first impressions are good ones, that can lead to more informative doctor- patient interactions.

Through their eyes

When was the last time you looked objectively, with the eyes of a new patient, at the front door and entryway to your office? What is the first sight that greets the new (and established) patient? Is it inviting? Is it pristine and well-painted? Is it friendly?

Have your staff walk through your office and honestly voice what is positive and negative to them.

Curb appeal

Does your property and building have positive curb appeal? A cared-for entrance and a clean and painted exterior and interior reassure patients that your office is well-kept.

A wise choice of colors and décor radiates a feeling of warmth and approachability. A sloppy, disorganized office with a too-casual staff reflects directly back on the doctor.

Play to the senses

Does your office smell fresh or stale?

Humans are blessed with five senses: sound, sight, touch, smell, and taste. It is vital that your reception area appeals to them. When prospective patients enter your office they should sense the cleanliness, efficiency, and integrity that build respect and admiration for the doctor.

You can’t say aloud, “I am qualified, I run a clean office, and I am successful.” Instead, the interior setting of your reception area, X-ray room, and adjusting rooms tell the story of your personal standing in the profession and community.

Play to emotions

The reception area also needs to cater to the patient’s emotions. Color, design, and furnishings can enhance a patient’s feeling of wellbeing. Your reception area should be sunny, clean, and bright; it should reflect good taste and be relaxing to the eyes and mind.

Be sparing with signs and posters, especially generic ones. Your office should be tastefully decorated and free of commercialism.

Your reception room should look like the living space in a fine home. And when patients feel at home, their potential of fear of treatment is lessened. Floor coverings, accessories, lighting, wall pictures, paint, and wallpaper—all are important in producing a pleasant atmosphere.

Play to vision

Color can produce many psychological effects. It affects a person’s mood and emotions. When patients enter your office, they may be nervous or not feeling well. The use of color can put them at ease.

For example: red, yellow, and orange generate warmth. Use lighter hues with these colors. Calming colors include blue, green, and violet. White walls can appear sterile and unappealing to patients.

When painting your exam room, consider the type of light that enters the room. For instance, if your exam rooms have fluorescent lighting, they will give off a bluish color. Used properly in the reception area, colors can comfort patients before their treatment.

Color combinations can make a room appear smaller or larger. Warm colors such as red, orange, yellow, and brown will make rooms look smaller. A room will look larger if painted in cool colors, such as green, blue, cool gray, or aqua. Warm colors create an atmosphere of intimacy, familiarity, and friendliness, while cool colors have the opposite effect. A clever combination of both brings about a wonderful atmosphere.

Gary A. Boring, DC, BCAO, LCP (Hon.), is a board member of the Sweat Foundation, practiced for 42 years at Boring Chiropractic, and is the author of Driven Towards Excellence 2014. He is also an extension faculty member at Cleveland Chiropractic College and president of the Academy of Missouri Chiropractors. He can be contacted at