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Eye Care Practices Wrap Up a Painful Year

17th wave of Jobson Optical Research survey shows recovery -- and challenges -- continue

Although 97 percent of respondents said that their location is open, revenues are down and coronavirus concerns are high, according to the 17th wave of the Jobson Optical Research Coronavirus ECP Study, which ran from Nov. 24-30, 2020. Only 18 percent of respondents said that their patient volume was higher now than it was in November 2019; 55 percent said that it is lower and 27 percent said it is about the same.

Most respondents, 61 percent, said that their practice has the capacity to serve more patients now than they are currently seeing. On average, these respondents their practices could accommodate 35 percent more patients. Of the 39 percent who said are working at capacity cited these reasons:

  • Government restrictions due to COVID: 45 percent
  • Lack of staff: 38 percent
  • Lack of patient traffic: 7 percent

Profitability and optical sales are both down for a plurality of practices. Forty-one percent of respondents said that their profitability was lower in November 2020 compared to November 2019, and 32 percent said it is about the same for this period. Optical sales are lower, said 48 percent of respondents; 26 percent said that they are about the same, when comparing November 2020 to November 2019.

Overall, respondents said that their revenue during survey wave 17 was 72 percent of what is was when comparing to the same week in 2019. In the previous two waves, taken in September and October, respondents said that their revenue was about 74 percent of that during the same week of the prior year.

COVID SURGE

In this wave, 83 percent of respondents said that there has been an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in their area. That’s the highest percentage since this question was introduced into these surveys in June.

COVID-19 is striking closer to more practices, as well. In wave 17, 33 percent of respondents said that at least one person who works in the location has contracted COVID-19. That’s the highest percentage since this question introduced into these surveys in August. As a result, practices continue a variety of cleaning protocols.

Respondents said that they are including measures to clean frames after they have been tried on.

  • Wipe with sanitizing wipe: 51 percent
  • Spray with sanitizing clean: 47 percent
  • UV sanitizer: 42 percent
  • Requiring patient to wash hands first: 18 percent
  • Dispenser/optician wears gloves: 16 percent

Twenty-nine percent of respondents said that they have added air purifiers, and 11 percent said that they have upgraded ventilation systems in their location. In addition, 97 percent of respondents said that their practices require patients to wear a mask.

Many of respondents expect that changes in procedures will extend post-COVID.

  • Hygiene protocols: 88 percent
  • A shift to appointment only: 56 percent
  • Increased work from home: 49 percent
  • Virtual sales calls: 45 percent

Respondents said that they think some aspects of the optometric profession may also change permanently.

Download the full 49-page report, which includes questions on staffing, telehealth, patient practices and volume, sales data and more.

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