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NEW YORK—A number of positive signs for ECPs have emerged in Wave 9 of the Jobson Optical Research Coronavirus ECP survey, including the finding that 75 percent of respondents whose practices are open have found that patient demand is as expected (49 percent) or even higher (26 percent) than expected. In addition, 91 percent of the respondents said their patients were either “eager to reschedule” (33 percent) or willing to reschedule if they are “comfortable with the safety precautions in place” (58 percent), according to the survey’s findings being released today.

The findings are based on responses from 557 industry professionals (64 percent of whom identified as optometrists). The survey was in the field during the period of May 8-12, and 70 percent of the respondents are employed at a single-location practice.

Another positive sign that emerged in Wave 9 is that respondents expressed strong interest in rehiring staff that had been let go or laid off in response to the shutdowns related to the spread of COVID-19. A total of 90 percent of respondents said they plan to rehire staff (46 percent) or already have rehired staff (44 percent). Only 4 percent of respondents said there are no plans to hire displaced staff at the practice.

Among the practices that laid off staff in March and April, 69 percent of the respondents said they expect to rehire “all” of the displaced staff members, and 16 percent of respondents said about three-quarters of the staff will be called back to work.

Click here to see the complete survey results.

Even with some aspects of eyecare returning to pre-coronavirus type operations, ECPs are expecting significant changes. For example, the average number of patients a practice expected to see on a single day has dropped from 28.5 patients (in Wave 9) to an average of 14.5 patients for practices that have reopened and 12.1 patients for practices that are still closed.

Also in terms of operations, 71 percent of respondents in Wave 9 said they are either “somewhat” or “very concerned” about acquiring the needed personal protection equipment (PPE). And 54 percent of the respondents said they had not yet thought about the additional costs related to PPE for the practice.

One disquieting finding is that 44 percent of the respondents affiliated with currently closed practices said their state or county has yet to announce when they are permitted to reopen the office, and 14 percent said the reopening will not be permitted until June.

Among the other findings of Wave 9, of the survey, 64 percent of respondents said their practice is currently open, and a similar number of the respondents (63 percent) whose practice is open said that the practice has been open either less than one week or one to two weeks.

Even the practices that are still closed are moving quickly to reschedule appointments, with 37 percent of respondents trying to reschedule patients in May and another 48 percent seeking to reschedule appointments in June.

Of the practices that are open, 20 percent are scheduling only previous patients (no new patients) and 22 percent said they are seeing “walk-in” patients at their practice.