Kaua‘i Dental Care
On Kaua‘i, the northernmost Hawaiian island nicknamed the “Garden Isle,” Dr. Alan Ing has built a brand new dental office that provides general dentistry to all who live in the tropical paradise. Kaua‘i Dental Care, which is 2,700 square feet with seven operatories, was completed in April 2015 and is home to Dr. Ing and his associate, Dr. Kyle Dumpert, along with several hygienists and staff. Positioned in a growing region of the island, it strikes a perfect balance, immediately communicating a high level of care, but in a professional, subtle way.
Dr. Ing relocated from his previous office a few miles away, which he had opened in 2006. When he decided to build a new, larger practice to enhance his patient care, he was understandably aware of the image he hoped to project. He wanted it to be beautiful and state of the art, but not too extravagant for his patients. He also studied many office design books and looked for solutions to some very specific challenges that had come up over the years.
The underlying problem in the doctor’s former location was actually a good one: Kaua‘i Dental Care had grown significantly since he opened it, and patients were now waiting two to three months to see him for routine services, and even longer for hygiene appointments. The backlog was hugely inconvenient for patients who needed care sooner, but it was also a lost opportunity for the doctor to increase productivity and profitability. As large as Dr. Ing’s patient load already was, there were even more people who needed his care: some local dentists had stopped taking new patients, and others would not accept dental insurance. It seemed obvious that he would be able to attract many new patients if he had the capacity to provide services to them. He simply needed more square footage and operatories.
“The old office had three operatories and was only 1,200 square feet,” recalled Dr. Ing. “Our lab was an old bathroom, and the sterilization room was very small. We couldn’t install a panoramic X-ray unit because there was no room for it. Our CAD/CAM system was crammed onto a counter. We basically had maxed out the space and had no room to grow or add new technology.”
Another important factor: the doctor’s lease was about to expire and the cost was going to increase, further impacting his bottom line. He saw an excellent opportunity for practice growth and enhanced patient care if he could build a new office customized to overcome his current obstacles. So, he found a building site in a growing area near several new retail stores.
“To start the process, we talked to Henry Schein and another dental company, and we asked both to provide a proposal for dental equipment,” explained Dr. Ing. “In the end, although the pricing was similar, we decided to work with Henry Schein because of their renowned customer service, the specialist’s responsiveness to our questions, the maintenance support, and a trusting relationship that we had built throughout the process with the Henry Schein Hawaii team. Once we had made a commitment to Henry Schein, the service continued to be excellent.”
Three main factors have contributed to its early success: larger, more efficiently designed waiting and treatment areas; location of technology to streamline processes and patient flow; and the adoption of new, more productive technology not possible in the old location.
The process took four years from the planning through final construction. Henry Schein’s Integrated Design Studio helped to create the initial sketches. When Dr. Ing traveled to Portland with his wife, Chris, and Regional Manager Traci Sparks to attend the Driven to Excellence Office Design Seminar, he was able to gather feedback on his plans to maximize its efficiency and effectiveness. Henry Schein Equipment Sales Specialist Trent Knief came in to assist Dr. Ing throughout the construction process and final details. Even with torrential rains that turned the island’s red dirt into rivers, the construction process went fairly smoothly.
Now open a year, Kaua‘i Dental Care is performing exceptionally. All of the practice’s production numbers have increased significantly, yet the amount of time patients wait for an appointment has decreased just as significantly. “We have shortened our wait times for an appointment to one month, and we can schedule a new patient appointment with our associate within a week,” Dr. Ing acknowledged.
So how did the new office and its design make such an immediate impact on the practice’s operations? Three main factors have contributed to its early success: larger, more efficiently designed waiting and treatment areas; location of technology to streamline processes and patient flow; and the adoption of new, more productive technology not possible in the old location.
Expanded Practice Comfortable for Patients and Staff
One of the primary contributors to Dr. Ing’s success in the new building is its sheer size. Since the office has more than doubled from his previous 1,200-square-foot, three-operatory practice, he was able to add Dr. Dumpert and another hygienist to the staff. The practice’s spacious footprint is noticeable immediately when patients enter the roomy and inviting front reception.
“We worked very closely with Cindi Matt from Henry Schein’s Integrated Design Studio,” noted Dr. Ing. “She presented paint colors, wall coverings, carpet, furniture styles, countertops, operatory flooring, and cabinet materials, and she was very responsive in answering questions, including those from the architect. She ordered many of our materials and ensured they reached us in a timely manner.”
The interior color palette draws its inspiration from the lush outdoors, relying on wall colors in green and yellow. A generous seating area is set off by the large check-in desk, with inlaid mosaic tiles serving as an accent. Dr. Ing chose artwork that illustrates his love of fishing. Large floor-to-ceiling windows, set throughout the practice, allow light to flow throughout, keeping the space bright and cheerful. The staff enjoys a dedicated lounge plus generous storage for personal effects—two features that were nonexistent in the old building.
“The staff have their own space now,” reported Dr. Ing. “Because of the additional room in both the front and back of the office, we can be more efficient in our work and can provide better service to our patients. The staff is much happier. The patients have told us many times that they can see the difference. Plus, Dr. Dumpert and I have our own place to retreat to finish our notes, make phone calls, or just relax.”
Dr. Ing’s new office houses seven operatories, and all are equipped with Pelton & Crane massage chairs and the Renaissance line of cabinetry and rear-delivery units. Each treatment room is identically designed, so equipment and supplies are always in the same place. And, because the operatories were created following best-practice specifications, they are ergonomically friendly for both the doctors and staff.
“One of the things I liked about Henry Schein was that they provided many options to us for dental equipment and explained the differences between each,” recalled Dr. Ing. Digital Imaging and CAD/CAM Maximized The doctor needed more space—especially more strategically planned space—to better utilize the pieces of equipment he already owned as well as additional technology he planned to add. He purchased the Planmeca FIT CAD/CAM system and had installed it in the previous office to give himself and his staff time to familiarize themselves with its operation, but with such tight quarters, it was not accessed to its fullest.
The current layout strategically places the new panoramic X-ray unit in the center of the hallway, steps from any treatment room. The Pelton & Crane sterilization center, with its separate entrance and exit, is state of the art and right next to the new onsite laboratory that holds the Planmeca PlanMill. Now, according to Dr. Ing, the carefully considered placement of all of the equipment has contributed to a smarter and more productive workflow. He also recently bought Digital Doc IRIS intraoral cameras, which help the staff better illustrate diagnoses to patients.
“The new technology we purchased was added to increase efficiency and provide a higher quality of care for our patients,” confirmed Dr. Ing.
The doctor had already used DEXIS digital sensors and Dentrix practice-management software in his former location, but he expanded their use in the new practice. “Our goal over the past few months has been to more fully integrate Dentrix’s eCentral features into our daily operations and become a paperless office,” added Dr. Ing.
Another goal is to add another associate who is experienced in some of the treatments they currently refer to other practices. “We have a strong team here that provides excellent customer service,” he proclaimed. “We want to maintain this level of care and service so that we continue to welcome referrals.”
Patients love the new Kaua‘i Dental Care. Dr. Ing has clearly been very successful in creating the practice he envisioned nearly four years ago! He makes two suggestions to other doctors who want to build an office: Find people you trust, and keep the lines of communication open at all times.