Tip #1 Get into the headspace of your patient
This requires you to carve out some time and really consider how your patient feels from before they step into your practice.
How did they find out about you? What method did they use to book? Were they notified of their appointment in advance by text, email or phone? Is it easy (and affordable) for them to park nearby or to catch public transport?
Then think about how you want them to feel when they step inside. Do you want them to immediately feel happy and alert or relaxed and calm? Elements such as lighting, furniture placement, temperature control, choice of interior style and colours, music and other soundscapes can all play a significant role.
Don’t be afraid to be creative, it will not only help your brand to stand out but it may bring a much-needed smile to your clients’ faces.
Tip #2 Ditch the dust (and other practicalities)
It goes without saying (though we will say it here!) that podiatrists have infection control procedures to comply with and dust should not exist in a podiatry practice (not even in the waiting room). Likewise, window dressings need to repel dust from gathering and since curtains can trap pathogens in the air they are a major no-no. Think window dressings that can be wiped down instead. Check also that your waiting room has easy wipe down surfaces; and now that we have ditched magazines and toys in waiting rooms, perhaps consider installing a digital screen to entertain and inform waiting patients, family members or carers with a medical information channel. Then there is the power of the indoor plant or flower arrangement to consider. While potentially therapeutic and relaxing, ensure this is hypoallergenic and regularly wiped down to remove dust particles. The short answer here is that wipe down surfaces are invaluable!
Tip #3 Be guided by restrictions
In the era that is COVID, this advice now takes on a whole new meaning. Not only are there practical COVID-related considerations but these government-mandated restrictions are ever-changing. It is worth ‘COVID-proofing’ your practice as much as possible from the outset, which can involve a range of measures such as using telehealth, safeguarding your patients and colleagues from potential contaminants, or managing your space to support social distancing.
One way to safeguard patients and colleagues from such contaminants is by installing a perspex screen. If you do this, remember the following points, which are expanded on further in the Safe Work Australia website:
- It’s essential to consult with workers about installing perspex screens.
- Appropriate staff training must be given if you do choose to install them.
- The screen needs to be fitted to suit your practice requirements and dimensions to ensure it protects everyone from droplet spray.
- A risk assessment can assist you in deciding what type of screen is best for your workplace. And bear in mind that installing a perspex screen may result in other WHS risks to consider.
Outside of COVID, it’s important to consider issues such as any physical restrictions or limitations that require accessibility into your practice and around the internal space itself. This includes access to areas like the reception desk, toilet, car park or waiting room. How can you accommodate these elements into the design of your practice?
Tip #4 Insulate and separate
There is no worse noise for a nervous client than the sound of a machine whirring loudly in the treatment room. Likewise, patients don’t want to hear the details of fellow clients who are perhaps sharing with the reception staff, or their podiatrist, all the details of their toenail infection.
Invest in good soundproofing to insulate unwanted sounds (and also minimise the transfer of any odours between rooms), and ensure the reception desk and treatment rooms are positioned in a way that supports confidential conversations when needed.
For more tips and links to a range of resources, download APodA’s guide, ‘Design and fit-out a clinic’.