A majority of doctors (57 percent) say that patients are willing to reschedule their visits to eye care professionals’ reopening offices, once they are assured that there are safety precautions in place, according to Wave 8 of the Jobson Optical Research ECP coronavirus survey. Another 30 percent of the respondents said that patients are eager to reschedule, while 13 percent said that patients seem hesitant at this point. This wave was open for responses May 1-4, just as a number of states were lifting some of the strictest stay-home orders.
The timing of this survey wave shows the shifting regulations, with 41 percent noting that they expect their state or country to allow reopening by Thursday, May 7. Another 25 percent of respondents expect to be allowed to reopen this month, and a quarter say they don’t yet know when they will be allowed to reopen to provide more than emergency or urgent care services.
Ninety-three percent of respondents said that they do plan to reopen, and 68 percent said they are working on a written reopening plan, the highest percentage seen since Jobson began asking that question in Wave 5.
Another indication of the reopening movement is that, while 75 percent of the respondents in this survey said that they have laid off at least three-quarters to all of their staff, 67 percent of the respondents in this survey said they are planning to rehire some staff.
As COVID-19 closings continue, the stress levels, both personally and professionally are lower than they were in the earliest waves of these surveys. The flow of financial assistance may be a factor; 70 percent of those who have applied for CARES Act relief have received it, and 82 percent of employees who have applied for unemployment have received benefits.
ECPs said that they expect they can be up and running quickly after being allowed to reopen—with 44 percent saying they can do so immediately and another 28 percent saying they can do so within one week.
PPE ACQUISITION CONCERN
This survey wave asked a new question to see if ECPs are concerned about acquiring the personal protective equipment (PPE) they want for themselves and staff. In addition to their concerns, 55 percent said they have not thought about how to manage the additional PPE costs.
The Wave 8 results also showed a shift toward more respondents wanting to wait until 2021 to travel to industry events and meetings. Six percent said they’re willing to travel driving distances now, while 14 percent said they would be willing to do so this summer, and 25 percent said they would be willing to in the fall. But 35 percent said they would anticipate feeling comfortable in 2021. An even larger percentage, 39 percent said they would feel comfortable traveling in 2021 if the trip requires airplane travel. Only 3 percent are willing to travel by airplane now, with 9 percent saying they would feel comfortable this summer and 17 percent saying they would be comfortable this fall.
Jobson Optical Research has been conducting these surveys about once a week, starting in mid-March to gauge the actions and attitudes of ECPs. Questions varied slightly in each wave, acknowledging the fluidity of circumstances. Where comparisons are possible over time, those are included. The current report, which shows those comparisons from earlier questions, is available here.