The third wave of the Jobson Optical Research survey, taken March 23-24, measuring trends and attitudes on coronavirus showed that closings and uncertainty have created considerable personal and business-related stress.
A new question asked respondents to rate their personal and business-related levels of stress. On a 10-point scale from lowest to highest, about 56 percent rated their stress level at 7 or higher. The average stress personal stress level among male respondents was 6.2; among female respondents, it was 7.
In terms of business stress, 68 percent said that their business stress is at least 7 or higher. Male respondents averaged a 7.1 level of stress, while female respondents averaged 7.5.
One startling change was how rapidly office closings took effect. Just less than a week ago, in the second survey wave, none of the respondents said that they had closed their practices. By the March 23-24 survey, 59 percent said they had closed their practices. Forty-one percent of the respondents have said that they had to lay off staff. Of those, 41 percent said they laid off the entire staff, and 30 percent said they have laid off about three-quarters of their staff. Only 24 percent of the respondents said that there are opportunities for staff to work from home.
Interest in telemedicine services continues to increase. Respondents may see greater opportunities in serving patients in ways other than traditional office visits. In the first wave of the survey, only 17 percent said they planned to offer telemedicine in the near future and five percent said they had already started to offer it. In the most recent survey, nearly 31 percent said they planned to offer it. Another 13 percent said they already were. Respondents said that patient interest in telemedicine services also seem to be rising. In the first wave, only 17 percent said that coronavirus concerns have influenced patients’ interest in telehealth service. By the third wave, that was up to 30 percent.
Those who are offering telehealth services are offering phone based consultations (83%), video/image consultations (75 percent) and mobile telehealth apps (19 percent). Twenty-six percent of the respondents said that they have been able to bill for telehealth services in the past two weeks.
FINANCIAL IMPACT EXPECTED TO BE SIGNIFICANT
As closings and service limitations are taking effect, respondents are recognizing the financial impact more accurately. In this third wave of survey responses, 69 percent of respondents expect a significant decline in practice revenues, compared to 51 percent in the second wave and 12 percent in the first wave.
Sixty-one percent of the respondents were optometrists, with 63 percent of them working in a single-location practice. Fifty-seven percent also said that they were than an owner or decision-maker in terms of limiting access or closing locations. Fifty-seven percent of the respondents were women.
You can download the full report at no cost here.