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Why Your Office Layout Matters

*Note: the following is an excerpt from the book “Chiropractic From a Businessman’s Perspective,” by Tom Owen & Dr. Todd Osborne.

Many doctors tell us that they see efficiency in their office as something that involves tasks performed at the front desk by their chiropractic assistant. It may surprise you to know, that efficiency has as much to do with the floor plan in your clinic as it does with the paper work at the front desk.

The floor plan shouldn’t be designed for patient comfort or convenience. We’re not being non-compassionate. Of course we want the layout to be as comfortable for the patient as possible. However from a business standpoint, the efficiency of your office is going to be based on you and your staff, not the patient.


There’s nothing wrong with trying to cater to the patients and make them as comfortable as possible, but you also have to set up your office to be efficient for you and your staff so you can help as many people as possible, as efficiently as possible.

The patient only has to walk up and down the hallway one time that day. But you and your staff may go up and down the hallway 40, 70 or 140 times a day. Don’t design your office to be so wonderfully ergonomic for the patient, that you and your staff are wearing yourselves out. Think about this for a moment. How long does it take a doctor to walk up and down the hallway 40, 70, or 140 times a day? It adds up! Multiply that amount of time per week or per month. Doctors waste more time maneuvering around inefficiently designed offices than they realize. Remember, inefficiency affects profitability. If you’re not using your time efficiently, you’re wasting it. Wasted time costs money.

We recently talked to a doctor that needed our help to increase his practice, but initially he didn’t see the need because he said he had all the patients he could handle in a day. He was seeing 30 patients a day. He said he’d like to see more, but he was maxed out at 30 patients with his current staff didn’t want to increase overhead, by hiring more. While we applauded his efforts not to increase his overhead, we quickly reminded him that it was most likely his inefficiency that was hindering his growth, not lack of staff. We knew that doctor could see more than 30 patients a day and we showed him how to do it without spending a dime on increased overhead. There are a multitude of variables we study when aiding a doctor, and one of those is floor design and patient flow.

When we observed the aforementioned doctor in his practice, we found that he was wasting about an hour and a half every day due to an inefficient floor plan. Just rearranging his office and correcting patient flow added an hour and a half of productivity to his day! Now he can see up to 45 patients a day. That’s an increase of 75 patient visits a week with no additional overhead! We’ve helped a lot of busy doctors become even busier just by addressing efficiency issues.

It’s not always about square footage either. A small office with an efficient design is much more productive than a large office with poor design.

Another principle we’d like to discuss as it relates to office layout/design (and again, this is not all that can be said on the subject) is that people feel 90 percent more than they hear. Your patients “feel” your chiropractic clinic from the time they drive into your parking lot until they leave on their very last visit. Each room in your clinic needs to project the right feeling. You need to understand that each room is saying something to the patient.

If a patient goes in to an exam room or an x-ray room, it should feel like an exam room or an x-ray room. The room should be telling the patient that without you saying a word.

There’s a little place out in the middle of the desert called Las Vegas. Businessmen in Vegas spend billions and billions of dollars to research things like what colors, smells, sounds, and sights will put people in the most comfortable mindset. They’re trying to stimulate their customers into a state of mind that makes them want to stay rather than leave.

Their business is gambling, but they pay attention to the aesthetics right down to the sound of the jackpot of a slot machine. It’s made from a particular type of metal that gives a distinct sound that resonates throughout the casino when someone hits the jackpot. When people hear that sound, they like it and want more of it. It generates excitement and a desire to stay longer and play more so they can hear that sound again.

What is your office saying to your patients? When you’re in the business of chiropractic you need to consider all the variables involved in what your patient sees and how they feel. The aesthetics of each room speak loudly to the patient. You should pay attention to what each room feels like– not just the efficiency of the layout involved.

For testimonials by real doctors who have used the AMC System, click here.

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