Insights From Our Editors

Lessons Learned From the First Days After Reopening

By Mark Wright, OD, FCOVD
and Carole Burns, OD, FCOVD

May 27, 2020

Reopening practices after the COVID-19 shutdown can come with surprises. Here is what we, and other ODs, have learned during this time.

During the pandemic, Jobson Optical Research is conducting multiple surveys to take a pulse of what is happening within our profession.

In the WAVE 9 Coronavirus ECP Study, the question was asked, “Is there anything you have learned being open during this time that would be valuable insight for others planning to open?”

The answers in quotations below are from that survey. The answers given can be grouped into four major categories. We’ll give comments on each category.

“Develop a detailed plan for re-opening.”
“Be prepared. Have an orientation day”
“Have written policy and procedure manuals”

COMMENT: “No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy.” This quote, or a variation of it, is attributed to chief of staff of the Prussian Army, Helmuth Karl Bernhard von Moltke. Having a plan for reopening is a must, but being flexible to change that plan to improve it as it unfolds in your office is equally important. A common example of this occurred with staff coverage due to some people not feeling comfortable returning to the practice, some having difficulty obtaining childcare, or some not returning due to having family concerns.

“Take it slow.”
“Allow extra time for everything.”
“Every task takes longer than you anticipate to complete.”

COMMENT: Most practices across the country opened at 50 percent of normal patient flow compared to pre-pandemic numbers.

Within a week or two, most practices increased to 75 percent of patient flow. Then, within another week or two, the practice was back to 100 percent of patient flow. Even though the practice may be back to 100 percent of patient flow, there are many new restrictions to people entering the office and how they are managed within the office. A “new normal” exists.

“Patients are eager to purchase.”
“Phone calls are more than expected.”
“Patients are more ready than people think.”

COMMENT: Most practices are experiencing patients purchasing at the same or higher dollar amounts compared to pre-pandemic numbers (that is: per-patient revenue). At this stage, these are just anecdotal observations – we’ll have better data as we move forward – but it is good to know that people are not afraid to purchase.

“[People] forget their own mask”
“Do not assume everyone knows how to properly wear a mask.”

COMMENT: Never underestimate how simple instructions can be misinterpreted. This picture is a perfect example of that. He was probably told to wear a mask and he is following those instructions – as he interpreted them. Obviously, some guidance is necessary.

i. Helmuth Karl Bernhard von Moltke, chief of staff of the Prussian Army for thirty years. He commanded troops in Europe and the Middle East, as well as commanding during the Second Schleswig War, Austro-Prussian War and the Franco-Prussian War. Moltke is considered the creator of a new, more modern method of directing armies in the field.

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