Nearly all respondents said that their practices have reopened in the Wave 20 of the Jobson Optical Research survey on ECP attitudes on Coronavirus, which was issued Feb. 25-28. Fifty-eight percent of respondents say that they are allowing walk-ins for eyewear dispensing or selections.
In the Wave 20 survey, 47 percent of respondents say that someone who works at the location has gotten COVID-19. That percentage was slightly lower than in the wave 19 survey, where 52 percent answered that they had an employee who had tested positive.
By this point, 60 percent of respondents said they have already gotten one or both doses of the vaccine and another 15 percent plan to do so. Eight percent said they are likely to get the vaccine, and 8 percent said they are unsure. Nine percent said they are leaning toward no or definitely not planning on getting the vaccine.
Most agree that the availability of the vaccine is of great importance to full reopening, with 68 percent saying it is very important and 20 percent saying it’s somewhat important.
For those who are currently offering telehealth services, only 28 percent plan to integrate that technology platform into their practice on a regular basis. Just 12 percent of practices that are offering telehealth have billed for a telehealth service in the past two weeks. In contrast, in late April 2020, 70 percent of respondents said that they billed for telehealth services.
Staff members are spending time in the optical cleaning frames that have been tried on. The most common methods are wiping frames with a sanitizing wipe, using a UV sanitizer and spraying frames with a sanitizing cleaner. Nearly half, 45 percent of wave 20 respondents, said that this typically takes about 3-5 minutes per patient.
Half of the respondents say that their patient-per-day load is lower this month than it was at the same time last year. Most, 69 percent, believed that they have the capacity to serve more patients. On average, respondents said that they could accommodate 30 percent more patients.
A lower patient flow has not necessarily resulted in lower profitability, however, said respondents. In fact, 27 percent said their profitability was higher in February 2021 than it was in February 2020, and 41 percent said it’s about the same. The remaining 32 percent said profitability was lower. Overall, respondents say that revenue is at about 74 percent of last year’s revenue for the same period. That percentage has held relatively steady since the survey introduced that question in September 2020.
While professional organizations are trying to work toward in-person events, respondents to this survey are generally unlikely to go, they said. In total, 52 percent said they were unlikely or definitely not going to SECO’s meeting in April in Atlanta, Georgia, and 72 percent said they were not likely (40 percent) or definitely note (32 percent) going to Vision Expo East in Orlando, Florida, in June. Similarly, 63 percent said Optometry’s Meeting in late June in Anaheim, California, seems unlikely or definitely out of the question.
Even with the introduction of the vaccine, not everyone feels comfortable with the idea of attending trade shows. Only 23 percent said they are comfortable doing so now, and 14 percent said they will be comfortable when they are fully vaccinated themselves. However, 41 percent said their comfort level won’t be reached until there is herd immunity, and 23 percent are unsure if they will be comfortable in such a setting again.
COVID’s Impact on Optical: The Year of 2020 Numbers in Review Now Available
Jobson Optical Research has released COVID’s Impact on Optical: The Year of 2020 Numbers in Review. Sponsored by ZEISS, the special report features exclusive Jobson research data and surveys showing the cumulative effect of the pandemic on the optical industry in 2020.
The report includes metrics tracked for ECPs in the U.S. such as average gross revenue per location, average gross optical revenue per location by region, U.S. unemployment rate versus U.S. optical sales, along with details like how many ECPs experienced having a staff member who tested positive for COVID, how ECPs are cleaning frames, and how patient behavior in screen time has changed.
This special report is available for download.