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These Exam Rooms Pack a Lot of Wow

Forget a sterile white box, here’s a handful of eyecare businesses whose exam rooms make the patient experience more memorable.

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EXAM ROOMS — IT’S where the cold, hard science happens. But does that mean the spaces themselves have to be cold and hard? Not according to the following half-dozen practices, who swapped whitewashed walls, modular carpet tiles and a sterile vibe for wit, humor, style and antique conversation pieces.

The Optical. Co
Columbus, OH

e Here’s a practice that understands that the coherent aesthetic you’ve developed for you showpiece optical doesn’t have to end at the door to the exam lane. Explains owner Dr. Craig Miller, “The custom designed Baltic birch paneled wall in the exam room was designed with two purposes in mind. One, we needed the wall to, in essence, ‘glow’ to provide subtle lighting during an exam, while at the same time create a piece of art that captures your attention as soon as you walk into the room.” The jigsaw wall is the piece de resistance here.

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Todd Rogers Eyewear
Andover, MA

“If you poke a small emotion inside someone … they are going to remember you.” Owner Todd Rogers Berberian was talking about his marketing strategy, but he could’ve been talking about the exam lane at Todd Rogers; a room that carries on the feeling that you first get when you walk in the practice’s front door: that you’re being told a story. This is a place that conveys charm and authenticity through details; in fact many of the cool little touches around the place come with their own museum-like place cards telling you where they came from. In short, the exam room at Todd Rogers, combining fancy tech with cheeky touches — whether it’s the giant blue hand-shaped seat or the retro, wall-sized chart of the functions of the eye — demonstrates that the medical side of your practice can have personality.

Eye Care Center of Colorado Springs
Colorado Springs, CO

After nearly 20 years in its first location, Eye Care Center Of Colorado Springs decided it was time to move, mainly because it wanted to add more exam lanes, but owner/optometrists Sara Whitney and Reed Bro didn’t like the medical buildings they were being shown. The practice now occupies a historic building dating to 1902. It was first used as a commercial carriage house and a number of original fixtures were preserved, including the original 12-foot sliding barn doors, which now serve to separate the business’s retail and clinical spaces — a brilliant touch that manages to preserve the heritage of the site while conveying, along with the exposed brick, salvaged wood and other chic finishes, a sense of style that’s industrial but never clinical.

Ziegler Leffingwell Eyecare
New Berlin, WI

For their exam rooms, Ziegler Leffingwell selected six iconic sites from Milwaukee and had full sized wall murals made for each. The murals are duplicated on plaques outside the exam rooms, and each room is named for that specific Milwaukee landmark. “The images were custom colored to match our interior colors,” explains co-owner Dr. Dave Ziegler. It’s the kind of touch you’d expect from a practice that dispenses eyewear in branded cloth shopping bags with a case that is personalized with the patient’s name embossed on it and a piece of Ghirardelli chocolate. But it’s the unique chair time that folks really seem to remember. “The themed exam rooms are the most talked about feature by our patients,” Ziegler says.

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Spring Hill Eyecare
Spring Hill, TN

Spring Hill Eyecare is adorned throughout with artifacts reclaimed from an 1870 farmhouse originally on the property, or found elsewhere. Many of these have found their way into the exam rooms, each of which is themed: travel, garage (the practice’s logo painted on a 1940s truck door), trains (working light and crossing signs); music (with 100-year-old instruments), science lab (microscopes and periodic tables). The dry eye treatment center is named ‘The Greenhouse’ after an actual one on the original property. “We decorated it with all the rusty tools we found in the old greenhouse,” says owner Rob Szeliga, OD.

Writings on the Wall

When you’re not refracting them, give patients’ eyes something to settle on and scrawl or paint something educational or entertaining on the wall. Clear Eye Associates + Optical in Fort Worth, TX, went for a Dr. Seuss gem on the wall of their testing area (top left). At SEEK Eye Care in Victoria, MN, patients get a dose of optometric humor (above), while The Optical. Co in Columbus, OH, went for something more educational (top right).

After years covering some of the farther flung corners of the world of business journalism, Heath has more recently focused on covering the efforts of independent eyecare professionals to negotiate a fast-changing industry landscape. Contact him at [email protected]

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