By Mark Wright, OD, FCOVD,
and Carole Burns, OD, FCOVD
Jan. 13, 2021
Challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic keep coming. Here are the latest findings from Jobson Optical Research on how eyecare practices are managing, along with guidance from us on actions to take in response to the pandemic-related issues you continue to confront.
The latest survey shows that there have been some changes that we should pay attention to and respond to by making appropriate adjustments within our practices. We’ve selected some of that data to bring to your attention. Click HERE for the full Jobson Optical Research report.
Changes Over Time
Notice the increase to 42 percent in the current survey from 33 percent in the last survey, which is up from 16 percent in the August survey. COVID-19 is very contagious, and so it is reasonable that we should see an increase, however, this also tells us that we must enforce our in-office safety procedures.
A good way to see the real utilization of telemedicine/telehealth in the practice is shown in the above chart. If you’re billing for telemedicine, then you’re utilizing telemedicine. In April, 70 percent of practices billed for telemedicine services within the last two weeks. That number drops to 16 percent in the most current survey.
This change in telemedicine is also reflected in plans to integrate telemedicine/telehealth into the practice on a regular basis.
As you can see from the above chart, there was a high of 90 percent in May, which has now dropped to only 30 percent at the end of December. Now that practices are opened back up and patients are returning to the office, the need for telemedicine/telehealth has dropped off. There is a need for telemedicine/telehealth in the practice, and there is a definite push in the medical world to increase the use of telemedicine/telehealth, so it would be a valuable brainstorming exercise within your practice to consider ways to utilize this service most efficiently and effectively.
Another significant change we are seeing over time is an increase in patient complaints about lens fogging when wearing a mask.
If 80 percent of our eyeglass-wearing patients are complaining about this problem, then we need to have solutions to address the problem. Make sure that you have explored all solutions with your optical vendors and that you are utilizing the best presentation methods for your patients. Create a system for addressing lens fogging with every patient.
Not Much Change Over Time
There has not been much change over time in the following areas as well:
How are you handling patients who arrive without a mask?
82% Providing one for free.
30% Not permitting them in the door.
07% Providing one for a fee.
03% Allowing them to be seen without a mask.
Has any staff elected not to come back to work due to the pandemic?
Yes = 28%
What are the reasons staff elected not to come back to work?
57% Felt unsafe.
44% Has underlying medical condition.
40% Lives with someone with an underlying medical condition.
36% Needs to stay home with children who are remote learning.
24% Retired early.
How has some of your staff not returning to work affected your business?
31% We can’t see as many patients.
53% We had to hire replacements.
24% It worked out for the best because we are seeing less patients anyway.
How do you clean your frames that have been tried on?
48% Wipe with sanitizing wipe
47% Spray with sanitizing cleaner
43% UV sanitizer
19% Patients trying on frames must wash hands first
14% Dispenser/optician wears gloves
03% Patients trying on frames must wear gloves
Has your location added any air purifiers or upgraded ventilation systems?
28% Added air purifiers
11% Upgraded ventilation systems
No matter the trend up or down, we should always pay attention to the following areas.
Compare the results on these charts to your own practice. Where are you, and where should you be, are the questions to ask as well as what is your plan for this year?
On these next few charts, think about yourself, your own practice and what your plans are.
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How can you help move your practice forward in a positive way? Take a few minutes and write down the top three most important ideas that struck you while reading through this data. Prioritize the top three most important ideas from your perspective. Create an action plan for the most important idea and begin to work on that today.