In order to provide eye care professionals (ECPs) with nearly real-time updates on trends and the impact from the coronavirus, Jobson Research will be conducting regular surveys on practitioner habits and business developments. Here are some topline results from a survey that was taken this past weekend (March 13 – March 16) with 539 respondents. Optometrists comprised 40 percent of respondents.
Ninety-four percent of respondents said that they are taking extra precautions to prevent the spread of coronavirus, both for staff and patients. To help protect staff, 96 percent of respondents said they are providing hand sanitizer in the offices, 64 percent said they are requiring a regular schedule of hand-washing, 34 percent said they’re providing masks for staff and 22 percent are limiting the number of people allowed to be in the office at the same time.
To protect patients, 94 percent of respondents said that they are providing hand sanitizer throughout the office, 29 percent are providing masks for patients; 27 percent are requiring that patients wash their hands prior to their exams and 23 percent said they are limiting the number of people allowed to be in the office.
ECPs also note that they are taking extra precautions in the optical dispensary, such as cleaning each frame tired on (72 percent) a, cleaning glass/handles to display cases (70 percent) and asking patients to wash hands before trying on frames (28 percent).
LETTING PATIENTS KNOW
Many eye care practices have alerted their patients with messages about coronavirus prevention. Forty-three percent said they have detailed for patients what the office is doing to keep the space sanitized and 31 percent said they’ve informed patients how they can keep themselves protected on a daily basis. Forty-eight percent of the respondents said they have not had this outreach to patients.
IMPACT ON BUSINESS
At this point, a majority of ECPs (55 percent) said that there is no perceivable change in appointment activity and 45 percent said patients are canceling more than usual. However, 60 percent of respondents say that those are canceling are also rescheduling their appointments.
Other findings from this survey show that about half of ECPs expect a financial impact on their practices, with 40 percent saying “some decline” and 10 percent said “significant decline. Another 45 percent of respondents said it’s too early to tell.
Coronavirus concerns have not, at this point, sparked widespread interest in telehealth. Seventy-nine percent of ECPs said the virus has not influenced consideration of of offering telehealth options, while 16 percent said they paln to offer telehealth option in the near future and 5 percent already have started. Most ECPs say that it has not spurred patients’ interest in telehealth.