NEW YORK—Staffing challenges seem to be the biggest concern facing eyecare professionals and optical retailers now, with some 38 percent of those surveyed in late September pointing out that a "lack of staff" is the number one reason they will have trouble serving more patients going forward, more than issues such as a lack of patient traffic or government restrictions on business due to COVID-19. Nevertheless,  62 percent believe that their practice does have the capability to serve more patients now among those taking part in Wave 27 of Jobson Research's latest Coronavirus Survey, which was conducted Sept. 27-30.

That being said, ECP respondents noted that profitability per patient is up by 11 percent in September 2021 compared to September 2020 and that the number of patients per day is also up by 10 percent in that same period, as are revenue and optical sales, the survey reported.
And the near-term outlook is more positive, too. Sixty-four percent of Wave 27 respondents said they feel their patients/per day will remain the same for this month (the next 30 days after the survey was completed), with an additional 22 percent saying they feel they will see a 1 percent to 10 percent increase in patients per day and another 5 percent, collectively, anticipate an increase of 11 percent to 20 percent or even more in this October period.


Wave 27 respondents also indicated that among changes they've made for the future, some 75 percent are offering weekend hours, and 74 percent evening hours. Concerns about the potential of another shutdown in their markets due to COVID are roughly evenly split among those who are very (12 percent) or somewhat (33 percent) concerned compared to 41 percent of respondents who are not that concerned and 14 percent who are unsure.
However, only 3 percent of respondents say they are requiring proof of vaccination or recent negative COVID tests for their patients in September, 81 percent saying they are not requiring those with an additional 16 percent saying they are not, "but would like to."
Finally, there has been an uptick among those ECPs and retailers experiencing any issues with products having delays due to supply chain issues, with the number hitting two-thirds or 66 percent of respondents in the latest Wave 27 report.
Respondents also shared their experiences with vaccinations among their staff and among patients and in their inclination to travel to industry events now and in the future.
Go to VM's Coronavirus Briefing section to catch up on all of the 2020 and 2021 Jobson surveys.
Click here to view a PDF of the full Wave 27 Survey results.