Annual Session course to help practices design offices for better patient experience, efficiency

Jeff Carter, DDS, and his wife Pat Carter

Jeff Carter, DDS, and his wife Pat Carter, IIDA, will present the course “A New Experience in the Dental Office: Where Your Vision Becomes Your Success” on Friday, Sept. 16 at the ODA Annual Session.

When designing a dental office, there are many unique challenges that differ from designing other types of businesses. From efficiency to ergonomics to the patient experience, dental office design can have a big impact on practices.

The Ohio Dental Association Annual Session will feature a full-day CE course this year aimed at helping dentists design their offices for optimal economic benefits and an improved patient experience. The course is intended for dentists considering an upgrade to their current office or designing a new office.

“A New Experience in the Dental Office: Where Your Vision Becomes Your Success” will be presented from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 16. The course will be presented by Dr. Jeff Carter, and his wife, Pat Carter. Dr. Carter is a dentist who has been involved with the design and construction of more than 500 dental facilities; Pat is a professional interior designer with a degree in interior architecture and has participated in the design and construction of more than 2,000 dental facilities.

“Patients are sensitive to their dental care experience. A significant part of their experience is based on what they see,” Pat Carter said. “If they see current technology and equipment, the office ‘presents’ well and is well organized, then patients are not hesitant to refer. A dated, disorganized office does not generate enthusiastic patient referrals. In essence, your office becomes your ‘brand’ and effectively reflects your high level of care or it doesn’t.”

The course focuses on three main areas: why you want to remodel or build a new office; common planning and design mistakes; and dental specific design principles.

The first section focuses on viable reasons for remodeling or building a new office and how those reasons should inform your practice vision for a successful outcome.

The second section identifies common mistakes made in the process of creating a new office, including specifics about the plan and design concepts that dental practices should pay attention to, as well as financial mistakes to watch out for. The Carters then give tips on how to avoid these mistakes.

“We want to offer solutions and options that correct the common mistakes,” Pat Carter said. “It could be surprising to dentists to realize they have some of these common mistakes in their office and they don’t realize patients are reacting. We go from simple to more dramatic things you can do to be successful in providing a better patient experience.”

And finally the course focuses on specific dental design principles, including ergonomics, staff and patient flow, HIPAA implications and practice efficiency. The discussion starts at the dental chair, but also looks at the front desk area, the appropriate size of spaces, flow throughout the office and anticipating future growth of the practice.

For example, Carter said one common issue they see is that practices will expand by adding more operatories, but never consider the impact to the front desk, and because of this, the practice doesn’t get the full benefit of the remodel.

“Dentists need to look at their facility as a reflection of their expertise and improving that patient experience,” she said. “It is incredible the skill sets it takes to perform dentistry well, and patients can’t really appreciate that. They take their cues from the facility, how they are treated, that their smile looks good. It’s about how you present yourself, and how you present that practice.”

Carter said that even small steps can make a huge difference in the patient experience. For example, just clearing off a desk and removing any clutter will make a practice appear neat, tidy, well organized and more professional.

She said that as dentists are focused on treating their patients, sometimes they may not realize what kind of impression their facility is leaving on their patients.

“It’s a wake-up call as to the impact the facility has on the patient experience,” she said.

The course will provide an overview of the design process, and will include time for general questions. The Carters also will be available to answer more questions from attendees about their own specific projects during breaks and after the course.

The course is supported by Midmark. Midmark is an official Ohio Dental Association Sesquicentennial Sponsor and an exhibitor at this year’s Annual Session (booth #714). ODA Sesquicentennial Sponsors are outstanding companies who have joined the celebration to honor the ODA’s 150th anniversary.

“Working in the health care space, we understand the challenges facing today’s health care providers inside the office and in the governing bodies outside the office walls,” said Tom Evans, a dental products sales representative with Midmark. “An organization like the ODA is critical in representing its members at the state and federal level of government, supporting their members’ interests by providing access to quality education and enriching the health within communities throughout Ohio. We’re happy to be part of the celebration of such a great organization.”

He said that Midmark is extremely honored that so many Ohio dentists have chosen to partner with Midmark.

“As a family owned, Ohio-based business, Midmark shares a lot of the same goals as the ODA and its members. As a leader in dental, medical and animal health markets, we are focused on redefining the clinical space while creating innovative solutions to make a positive difference in the practice of health care,” he said. “Secondly, with offices in Dayton, Versailles and Cincinnati, we live and work in the same communities as many of your members. The majority of our 1,600 teammates and their families are patients of the dentists the ODA represents. Midmark teammates take great pride in seeing the equipment they work so hard to design, develop and manufacture put in use.”

This course allows up to three attendees to register for a total of $275, and each additional attendee in that group will cost $100. To register for this course and to learn more about the full schedule of events at this year’s ODA Annual Session, visit