I'm considering remodeling an exam room. What are the first steps I should take?
Wayne Usiak, AIA
"Practitioners generate up to 75 percent of practice income in the exam rooms," says Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member Wayne Usiak, AIA, with BDA Architecture in Albuquerque, N.M. "But space is generally limited, so your goal is to make an attractive, ergonomic work area out of the least space possible." He offers these tips for rethinking your space:
Begin by taking pictures of your exam room. Blow them up to 8 inches by 10 inches and put them on your desk for a week. You'll notice small things that you won't notice when you're working in the room, like clutter or a painting that doesn't match.
Prioritize the things you'd like to fix. The easiest things to change are color, flooring, ceilings, lighting, cabinetry, and fixtures—in that order.
Decide on a budget. Then see how far down your list of prioritized fixes the money you've allocated goes. If the current walls, plumbing, and electricity are adequate, a makeover could cost you $25 to $50 per square foot. For comparison, new buildings typically cost $150 per square foot and up.
Remember to make your exam room consistent with the look you establish in the rest of your practice.
Use color well. For example, one or two accent colors can give your whole practice a lift, if used well. But poorly done, color can detract from clients' experience. Research the colors you're planning to use so you know how they affect people's emotions.