By Mark Wright, OD, FCOVD,
and Carole Burns, OD, FCOVD
May 26, 2021
Many patients book appointments using online services such as Zocdoc. Here are the latest metrics on optometry appointment bookings from Zocdoc. We can learn from this information what happened from May 2020 to April 2021, as well as what actions we need to take in our practices.
Zocdoc supplied the following data to us:
By looking at the data from May 2020 through April 2021, there is a significant difference between optometry and ophthalmology and other specialties:
• In general, the national average for all specialties shifted from 67 percent in-person visits in May 2020 to 89 percent in-person visits in April 2021.
• Optometry appointments remained largely in-person: 92 percent in-person in May 2020 and 99 percent in-person in April 2021.
This data gives us a clear picture of how important it is for our patients to actually come into the office and how important it is for eye doctors to want to see patients for in-person visits. Compare and contrast the optometrist and ophthalmologist numbers with the psychiatrist and psychologist numbers. It appears that over that same time fewer patients of psychiatrists and psychologists wanted to come back into the office to have an in-person visit.
Let’s look at the same data for optometry, but break it down by five states.
When we look at the numbers by state, the state with the lowest number for optometry in-person care in this data in May 2020 was New York. But, even that number (85 percent) is higher than the national average of 67 percent for all specialties for May 2020. It’s clear our patients and our eye doctors want to see patients for in-person visits.
We can see from the Zocdoc data that, with the exception of psychiatry and psychology, all specialties are on a strong trend of getting back to normal.
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This data raises two questions we should consider:
1) How are you doing in your practice when you compare May 2020 numbers with April 2021 – are you close to 100 percent in-person care today? This is an interesting question from the standpoint of telemedicine visits. Some practices used telemedicine only as a way to get through the pandemic and went back to in-person care as soon as possible, dropping telemedicine visits as quickly as possible while other practices learned that telemedicine visits have a place in the practice and worked out a way to continue telemedicine visits while moving back into in-person care. What’s going on in your practice with respect to telemedicine visits?
2) In-patient care in most practices looks different today from what it did in 2019. We have enhanced disinfection protocols, masking and social distancing, just to mention three common changes. However, we’ve been working with these changes long enough so that, by now, we should have discovered efficiencies that permit the same level of effectiveness while getting our exam schedules closer to 2019 schedules. How is your practice doing in this area?
Take this week to create an action plan for telemedicine visits and patient flow efficiencies.
What is Zocdoc?
A Bing search reveals that Zocdoc is a New York City-based company offering an online service that allows people to find and book in-person or telemedicine appointments for medical or dental care. The platform also functions as a physician and dentist rating and comparison database. The service is free for patients, and doctors pay to advertise their appointment slots. Established in 2007, the private company had a $1.8 billion valuation by August 2015, the third-highest for a startup in New York at the time.