Staff and patient concerns are increasing; more cancellations, closings and interest in telehealth
A second Jobson Optical Research survey on COVID-19 shows how quickly and dramatically views and actions are changing in eye care offices throughout the country. The largest changes in preventive steps being taken in optometric offices, according to the second survey, is that far more practices are limiting the number of people allowed in the office at one time. During the March 18-19 survey, 69 percent of respondents said they were taking that step. Just days before, in the March 13-16 survey, only 24 percent were taking that step.
Patients also seem to be taking extra steps to minimize their exposure. In the second survey, 85 percent of respondents said that more patients are cancelling their appointments. Just days earlier, only 47 percent of respondents said they were seeing more patient cancellations.
Staff concerns are also markedly higher in this second survey. Now 73 percent of respondents said that staff members have expressed concerns about coming in. Days earlier, that value was 44 percent.
The second survey also saw a significant increase in the number of respondents who expressed an interested in telehealth. In the first survey, only 5 percent of respondents said that they had already started to offer telehealth services. Seventeen percent said they had plans to do so in the near future. In the second survey, those numbers jumped to 9 percent and 28 percent, respectively.
The financial consequences have increased dramatically between the two survey periods. In the second survey, 51 percent of respondents said they expect a significant decline in practice revenues, up from 5 percent in the first survey. Thirty-six percent, down from 40 percent, said they expect some decline. The concerns about the impact on the supply chain are also evident. Sixty-six percent of respondents said that they anticipate production delays (up from 52 percent in the first survey). And 55 percent said they expect inventory shortages from suppliers or outside labs, up from 49 percent in the first survey.
The second survey added some new questions, such as respondents’ expectation to close. Seventy-seven percent said that they expected to close the office in some way (see chart). Forty-six percent said they anticipate opening fewer hours per days, 44 percent said they will close on a voluntary basis, temporarily; 34 percent said they will close if mandated to do so and 21 percent said they anticipate opening fewer days per week. Participants were allowed to select more than one response.
Similarly, 59 percent said they are considering or have already limited the eye care/dispensing services. Seventy percent said they will offer only emergency care or will see patients by special appointment. Another 32 percent said they are closing the dispensary, and 19 percent will provide only exams or eye care services.
More than 1,300 respondents participate in the second Jobson Optical Research survey on the impact and reactions to COVID-19 among eye care professionals. The number of optometrists tripled in this survey, which was open March 18-19, compared to the earlier one, which was open from March 13-16. Fifty-nine percent of the responding ODs said they were female.