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A floor plan that uses space efficiently sets the stage for a successful and profitable chiropractic business, even with space and square footage limitations. Office layout can and does affect your ability to attract and retain clients.
Form Follows Function
Architect Louis Sullivan coined the phrase "form follows function" in an 1896 essay about building design. This basic principle still holds true today. The primary considerations in creating chiropractic office floor plans are efficiency and effectiveness. The most beautifully appointed space is not an asset to a successful business if it does not function well for practitioners, staff and patients.
Conduct a Needs Analysis
In addition to a floor plan for treatment areas, you'll need a front desk floor plan as well as one for a patient waiting area. For the treatment areas, base a floor plan layout on square footage and the services you intend to provide. For example, a floor plan for a chiropractic practice that provides adjustments will look different from a floor plan for a practice that also offers rehabilitation services. Consider the following questions to guide your space planning:
- How much total square footage is available?
- Do you currently have the space, or are you looking for space to rent or purchase?
- What services will be offered?
- How many doctors and auxiliary personnel will work in the office at one time?
- How many patients will be accommodated at one time?
- What equipment and furniture will be incorporated into the design?
Zones Within the Office
Within a chiropractic office, there are several zones, each with its own distinct function. Typically an office has the following zones as well as furniture and equipment specific to that zone, which can include:
- Waiting Area: Chairs, end tables, literature rack, retail products display
- Reception: Desk, chairs, telephone
- Front Office: Filing cabinet, copier, fax machine, shelving
- Doctor's Private Office: Desk, desk chair, side chairs, bookcase
- Treatment Room(s): Adjusting table(s), doctor stool(s)
- Physical Therapy/Rehabilitation Suite: Muscle stimulator, ultrasound, traction table, mobile treatment cart, treadmill, exercise bike, rower, exercise balls, stability trainers
- Massage Therapy: Massage table, massage chair
- X-Ray: X-ray machine, x-ray processor, digital CR x-ray
Create a Paper or Virtual Floor Plan
Use grid paper and cut out shapes to try out different chiropractic office floor plans before purchasing and arranging actual furniture and equipment. The medical and chiropractic supply company Scrip Hessco has free printables available on their website. You can also use a space planning app such as Magic Plan, Room Scan Pro, Floor Plan Creator, Sketch Up or Room Creator.
Chiropractic practices are governed by state laws, which can vary. Legal requirements cover different aspects of the business, including the types of services that can be provided, training and licensing requirements of those providing services and length of time that patient records must be kept. Knowing the legal requirements in your state will help you determine your space needs. For example, Massachusetts requires that patient records be retained for a minimum of seven years after the last patient encounter. Sufficient storage space must be available to house the records.
Free Design Help
Supplies of medical and chiropractic furniture and equipment often have designers on staff who can help you with the configuration of chiropractic office floor plans. Professional organizations for chiropractors, including the National Business Association for Chiropractors, the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Chiropractic Physicians, may also be able to provide guidance.
Consider Hiring a Consultant
You may save money in the long run by hiring a design consultant that specializes or has experiencing creating layouts for chiropractic offices. Just as a chiropractor has training in the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders, an interior designer has the training to create an attractive and functional layout in the space available.
- CrossFields Chiropractic Office Design
- Chiropractic Economics: Creating an Efficient Interior to Foster a Thriving Practice
- Scriphessco: Planning and Equipping Your Chiropractic Facility Guide
- National Business Association for Chiropractors: Space Needs and Office Layout
- Commonwealth of Massachusetts: Board Policies and Guidelines -- Chiropractic
Denise Dayton, M.S., M.Ed. is a freelance writer specializing in careers, education and technology. In addition to writing for corporate clients, she has published articles in Library Journal and The Searcher.