Dr. Jeffrey Alvarado teamed up with Henry Schein to reimagine dentistry with the construction of his new office space. The result: A jaw-droppingly elegant facility with all new state-of-the-art equipment and a workflow that enhanced office efficiency, as well as patient comfort and retention. When The Lakes Family Dental opened the doors to its new facility in May 2021, patients were immediately wowed by the transformation, leaving their anxieties outside the door.
Dr. Alvarado, owner of The Lakes Family Dental in Edinburg, Texas, achieved in one year something that most dental practices take years to do: He nearly doubled his 22-year-old practice by both the number of patients seen and by annual revenue.
His growth can be directly tied to his expanded patient focus.
"The Edinburg area has been growing exponentially over the past few years and is underserved,” explains Dr. Alvarado, whose 2,500-square-foot practice was bursting at the seams. “We couldn’t provide the full-spectrum of dentistry that we wanted to, which included same-day implants. Many of my patients had to be referred out to specialists.”
For years, Dr. Alvarado envisioned a purposefully designed, fully integrated, comprehensive, patient-centric practice that takes the edge off of the anxiety some people experience during a dental visit. He also wanted to be able to expand his patient consult area.
Last May, Dr. Alvarado fulfilled that vision when he moved to his new, sprawling, bespoke 11,000-square-foot facility.
He found a spacious building a short distance from his current office and called upon Rene Villarreal, field sales consultant with Henry Schein, to help put his plan into action.
“Dr. Alvarado has always tried to set himself apart from the competition, and through the years we strategized on what to do to stay ahead,” says Mr. Villarreal, who has known Dr. Alvarado for 22 years and helped him build his first office.
“I knew his vision,” adds Mr. Villarreal. “His practice does a great job with patient consults, so it was important to create a workflow that accentuated that.”
It’s All About Flow
Dr. Alvarado recognized early on in his former practice — where the consult room was shared — that there was often a disconnect between what patients agreed to do in consults versus what they chose to do in actual follow-up appointments.
“I wanted to make the dental office something people look forward to as a very positive experience,” says Dr. Alvarado. “Oftentimes, a patient’s anxiety about seeing the dentist is more a result of the dental office environment than it is about the actual experience. Loud spaces where conversations are overheard can create patient anxiety before I even meet with them.”
Dr. Alvarado and Mr. Villarreal pulled together a team of Henry Schein consultants, including his equipment sales specialist and staff from Henry Schein’s Integrated Design Studio (IDS), to align his vision with a blueprint for action, and soon began the build-out. They completely gutted the inside of the new location, which included breaking down a capacious, centrally located micro laboratory situated right in the entryway of the building, in a space more commonly used for a lobby or reception area.
IDS employed innovative strategies to make natural light a key part of every space. They knocked down walls. They constructed an integrated curvilinear corridor throughout the facility. They separated rooms with full-length, thick glass windows, creating bright and airy wide-open spaces, while ensuring patient privacy.
“The overall patient experience is, by design, to help patients feel relaxed from the moment they walk in, for staff to have optimal efficiency and privacy in caring for patients and ultimately, to increase case acceptance,” says Mr. Villarreal.
“I wanted to create a ‘wow’ factor,” adds Dr. Alvarado. “I wanted the reception area to create an immediate sense of elegance and comfort.”
The once closed-off clinical micro lab was transformed within 10 months into an eye-popping, sleek, modern space with a personalized, patient-focused workflow, using the most advanced equipment in the industry for patient care.
The Reception is Wow
And, wow is what they did.
Situated 20-miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border, the new location is a beacon of elegance and innovation, providing full-spectrum general and cosmetic dentistry, with an emphasis on preventive care in this urban Texas border town.
Fewer than 10 minutes away from his former site, Dr. Alvarado’s new dental office has 11,000 square feet of space, more than quadruple the size of his old location. The space accommodates his growing staff of 30, including three doctors, and is furnished with the most advanced dental equipment to enable a customized, efficient practice workflow.
When patients walk through the front door of The Lakes Family Dental, they enter the breathtakingly elegant reception area, decorated in neutral grays and soft whites with modern orange furniture, and decorative orange and black highlights throughout the space. The orange furniture and decorative elements pay homage to the doctor’s mentor, whose office used a similar color palette at the Engel Institute, where he earned his certification for dental implants.
Staff members greet guests from behind the large, curved reception desk, designed to guide patients into the practice. Patients enter the dental office from one side of reception and exit from the opposite side, allowing for constant, easy movement. Behind reception, there are nine working operatories and room for 12 more, three consultation rooms and a scheduling area.
High-Tech Approach for Quality Results
All of the operatories include top-of-the-line, ergonomically designed, fully integrated Dentsply Sirona IntegoTM Treatment Centers. Dr. Alvarado’s surgical suite, which has glass windows that change from clear to opaque with the touch of a button, is equipped with a Dentsply Sirona TeneoTM Treatment Center, with a massage function that he uses for longer procedures. Similar to the automatic seat adjustments in a car, the chair also uses “smart technology” to adjust to a patient’s height and head position with an audio command using the patient’s name, while allowing unencumbered access by the clinician.
TV monitors and music help patients relax. What’s more, everything is at the clinician’s fingertips. The treatment centers’ integrated table instrument functionality enables patients to get implants, endodontic work and restorations without having to leave the office or the chair. Dedicated monitors for diagnostics — one for the doctor and one for the patient — allow patients to see and understand exactly what the doctor needs to do and why.
“We now offer an array of services all under one roof, including whitening, crowns and bridges, wisdom teeth extractions, veneers, implants and orthodontic treatments, to name a few,” says Dr. Alvarado, who replaced all his equipment, leaving behind six fully-furnished operatories when he moved. “We utilize the latest dental technology to ensure consultations are fast and effective. We even provide sleep dentistry sedation for anxious patients to make their experience a pleasant one.”
“Our old equipment was great,” he explains, “but I wanted to level up and [the old equipment] did not match my vision. I chose Dentsply Sirona for my expansion because it’s easy to integrate, enhances speed of service and enables single-visit dentistry, which patients love.”
Dr. Alvarado was one of the first dentists in the country to receive and implement the new Dentsply Sirona Axeos™ extraoral cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) unit. A touchpoint for care in his practice, it provides precise measurements of teeth, soft tissues and nerve pathways, and seamlessly connects with add-on technology.
“The quality of the imaging is tremendous for diagnosis,” adds Dr. Alvarado. “Having the latest 3D equipment to use for patient education sends a reassuring message to patients.
“We also integrated a handheld DEXIS™ NOMAD™ Pro 2 intraoral X-ray system, along with three CEREC® Primemill milling units and a CEREC Primescan® intraoral scanner to provide same-day dentistry,” adds Dr. Alvarado. "This equipment brought the delivery of our dental practice to a level I never imagined.”
Centrally located along the curved corridor is the Dentsply Sirona Kappler Instrument Treatment Center, which enables a continuous transition between instrument sterilization and recirculation back into the treatment areas. Separated by a glass barrier to help differentiate the sterilization room from the main hallway, visitors can see first-hand the practice’s complete sterilization process and strict adherence to patient health.
If You Build It, They Will Come
The build-out took four months longer to complete than initially planned due to COVID-related shortages in supply and manpower, but there was never any doubt that the practice would quickly make up for lost time. “Mr. Villarreal told me that I was going to get busy right away and double my production,” says Dr. Alvarado. “He was right. In less than one year we doubled production and revenue.”
Dr. Alvarado also achieved the goal he and Mr. Villarreal established at the outset of the build-out: to increase patient consultations and acceptance. Says Dr. Alvarado, “Since May 2021, we went from 50 new patients per month to 87, and I am conducting more consultations in one day than I used to do in an entire week.”
“Everyone in the industry wants to do things faster and better,” says Mr. Villarreal. “Dr. Alvarado is the only client who followed every one of our recommendations to a ‘T.’ We’ve worked together a long time and we plan things out. He trusts us.”
When asked how he would advise other dentists contemplating a new dental practice or remodel, Dr. Alvarado reinforces that trust. “I put my complete trust in Mr. Villarreal and Henry Schein. Anyone contemplating a similar move should work with their representative and build that trust as well,” says Dr. Alvarado. “They have the know-how and experience to help with everything from finding the location, suggesting equipment to fit your budget, achieving your goals and, most importantly, delivering the type of dentistry you want to provide to your patients.”