NEW YORK—One in two eyecare professionals, including independent optometrists and opticians, responding to a Jobson Research survey this past weekend, said they expect a negative financial impact on their practice as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. This includes 9.7 percent of respondents who expect a “significant decline in practice revenues,” while another 40.1 percent said they expect “some decline” in revenues due to the outbreak. Overall, 539 eyecare professionals responded to the Coronavirus ECP Survey from Jobson Research. Of this group, 45.3 percent (243 respondents) said it is “too early to tell” if coronavirus will impact practice revenues and 4.9 percent said they do not expect any negative effects. Roughly one in two respondents also expect production delays and/or inventory shortages, according to the survey results issued today by Jobson Research.

Among the respondents, 59.9 percent said they represent single-location practices, and another 25.2 percent are affiliated with two- or three-location practices. Fifty respondents (9.3 percent) said they are affiliated with practices that operate more than 10 locations. The respondents include 216 ECPs who identified as optometrists, 278 as opticians/dispensers and seven who identified as ophthalmologists. Fourteen respondents identified as technicians and 24 as “other.” To view all the findings of the survey, click here.

In addition, in the survey 94.4 percent of the respondents noted that they are taking “extra precautions” in their office as a result of the ongoing spread of coronavirus. This includes providing hand sanitizer to staff (95.9 percent), providing masks for staff (34.1 percent), requiring a regular schedule of hand-washing (65.3 percent) and/or limiting the number of people allowed in the office at one time (21.9 percent).

In terms of services to patients, 93.8 percent of the respondents are providing hand sanitizer, 29.2 percent are providing masks, and 27.2 percent require patients to wash their hands prior to their exam. In the dispensary, 71.7 percent said they are cleaning each frame tried on, 70 percent said they are cleaning the glass and handles to the display cases and 27.6 percent said they are asking patients to wash their hands before they try on frames.

In terms of patient response to coronavirus, 45.3 percent (242) of respondents said patients are canceling appointments “more than usual,” while 54.7 percent said they have not noticed a “perceivable change” in appointments. Roughly 60 percent of the patients who are canceling their appointments have opted to reschedule, according to the surveys results.

At the staff level, about six in 10 respondents (57.4 percent) noted that their staff has not expressed concerns about coming to work.

Among the other key findings of the survey:

• 79 percent of respondents said the coronavirus will not affect their thinking on providing telehealth options to patients, however, 16 percent said they plan to offer telehealth in the “near future.”

• 17 percent of respondents said they expect increased interest by patients in accessing telehealth options as a result of the coronavirus.

• 30.6 percent of respondents said they have provided “messaging” to their patients about how they can protect themselves, while 43 percent have informed patients what the practice has done to keep the office space safe and sanitized.

Bill Scott, president, Optical Research, ECP and PAA, Jobson, said, "Jobson Reseach is committed to supply the industry with research that is accurate, reliable and actionable. We intend to monitor the ongoing coronavirus impact as the situation unfolds."