With more than 25 years of experience in the dental industry and a professional career in dental clinic design, Mia Glad Thomsen knows what defines good dental clinic design.
She has recently opened a new showroom in Aalborg, Denmark in addition to running her special service as a dental clinic designer and intermediary between clinic owners, equipment suppliers, building constructors, etc.
We met Mia in Aalborg in a conversation about her specialist views on most important aspects of fitting out a clinic. According to her, good clinic design meets three criteria: aesthetics, efficient treatments and ergonomic working postures.
To the point about aesthetics Mia puts it like this: “It’s important that the clinic has its own DNA – and the challenge is to identify how we show that in the clinic interior. Today, many clinic owners want to create a dental practice that is visually appealing to attract customers and employees.”
Besides the look and feel of the clinic, Mia has also seen a shift in the industry recently that gives more weight to the importance of a clinic’s special identity or DNA. “Female clinic owners are on the rise, and they tend to care more about the clinic interior. They want a clinic that looks good and is comfortable without compromising on ergonomics. But there is also an increase in the number of large practices with several sites that uses call centers and centralize functions, and they also need a distinct DNA across their clinics,” Mia explains.
Another key aspect of good clinic design is efficiency. Often, it’s a matter of putting things in the right places. Mia shares a brilliant example: “I once helped a clinic owner who had five practices. One of the things they struggled with was that the dentists and assistants couldn’t find the tools and equipment when they shifted between clinics. The reason was that the instruments were stored differently in each treatment room. When we put everything in the same way across the clinics, the practitioners knew exactly where everything was. A simple thing that saved them a lot of time and money and improved their treatment procedures.”
However, efficiency is not a ‘one size’ solution. The optimum treatment room size and equipment vary depending on the clinic type. Mia explains: “The perfect clinic design depends on the specific requirements and treatment types, and the needs differ a lot from practice to practice. In effect, it’s not the number of square meters that defines good clinic design, but it’s how you fit out the room.”
Treatment efficiency will become even more critical in future dentistry. There are stricter requirements to disinfect tools and equipment, and rental costs are rising. We need to rethink equipment storage, treatment room layout and work procedures to enable practitioners to maintain high quality standards and improve clinic efficiency.
As one example we talked about XO CARE’s focus on minimal square meter requirement and the efficiency gain when using the XO WORKTOP workbench.
The third key aspect is ergonomics. In her work, Mia sees a lot of different dental practices, and in many cases, the interior design fails to meet the dental practitioners’ needs. Mia explains: “The most common mistake is that the dental equipment is placed in a way that impedes ergonomic working procedures. For example, the unit must be positioned correctly with regard to the equipment, cabinet or workbench in the treatment room, and a pediatric dentist, dental surgeon and specialist dentist all have different needs in terms of unit positioning and equipment.”
Unfortunately, ergonomics is something that is often overlooked, according to Mia. “Today, dental students often don’t learn much about ergonomics. They don’t know if their chair is positioned wrongly in terms of reaching the cabinet contents behind them, and they don’t learn how to sit in a way to avoid unnecessary strain on them when reaching for the instruments. But in my view, it’s critical that they work in ways that do not harm their professional health,” Mia explains.
How to improve clinic design
We’ve asked Mia what’s the fastest and easiest way to improve the interior of an existing clinic. In answering, Mia urge clinic owners to look at cost-efficiency. “One of the most common dental equipment elements that need to be upgraded is the sterilization. Often it doesn’t work satisfactorily or doesn’t meet the strict hygiene standards.”
“As for clinic design, I see a shift towards using more colors – and luckily there is also an increased awareness about ergonomics.”
In closing, Mia shares three pieces of advice for clinic owners who are considering redesigning their existing practice:
1. Get in touch with a dental clinic design advisor before you start off
2. Determine what kind of clinic you want and need
3. Discuss your decisions regarding financing, technology, refurbishment, HR, etc. with a trusted peer or advisor
Mia Glad Thomsen is the owner and CEO of UNIQ Advice, specializing in turnkey contracts, clinic interior design and advisory services for the dental industry. XO FLEX and XO WORKTOP are some of the recommended solutions on display in the UNIQ Advice showroom.
Find out more about the XO WORKTOP workbench