April 14, 2021
The challenges of the pandemic will leave lasting changes to eyecare practices and the optical industry, according to wave 21 of the Jobson Optical Research Coronavirus ECP survey.
While eyecare professionals saw a much stronger March 2021 compared to March 2020, on average the metrics are still lower than they were in March 2019. The highest year-over-year gains came in optical sales (24 percent), revenue (23 percent) and number of patients per day (22 percent). While the capture rate in March 2021 is similar to March 2019, the other benchmark measures are all down somewhat.
Sixty-seven percent of respondents said their practice has the capacity to serve more patients than they are seeing now. On average, they estimated that they can see 29 percent more patients.
The vast majority of respondents, 92 percent, said hygiene protocols implemented as a result of the pandemic are likely to continue in their practices. About half of respondents also said industry meetings and continuing education are likely to have changed forever.
Thirty-eight percent of respondents noted that they are unsure if or when they will be comfortable relaxing sanitation and cleaning measures. Another 35 percent said they will be comfortable when herd immunity is reached.
Similarly, 30 percent are unsure they will be comfortable reducing PPE use in the office, and 46 percent said they will consider that when herd immunity is reached.
Just more than one-third of respondents said they will be comfortable now (25 percent) or will be comfortable once they are fully vaccinated (14 percent) to attend trade shows. However, 40 percent said herd immunity levels should be reached first, and 21 percent said they are not sure if or when they will be comfortable attending trade shows again.
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Wave 21 saw the highest percentage yet of respondents who said that someone at their work location has gotten COVID-19; 53 percent said yes to this question.
Most respondents have been vaccinated, with 74 percent who said they have already had at least one dose. Another 9 percent said that they plan to when it becomes available to them. Eight percent of respondents said they are unlikely or definitely not getting the vaccine.
Staff members are following suit and getting their vaccinations.
Eighty-eight percent said that the vaccine availability is either very important (68 percent) or somewhat important (20 percent) to full business recovery.
At least eight states are allowing eligible optometrists to offer COVID vaccines. In this survey, 37 percent of respondents said they would like to see that happen, while 51 percent said they would not. Another 12 percent noted that it is already happening in their state.
About a quarter of respondents said they would personally want to deliver a COVID vaccine, either to patients or as needed.