Optometry is back in business—but with reduced hours, lower volume and an abundance of precaution. As some parts of  the nation begin to reopen, many optometrists have already put in motion their own plans to open their practices while abiding by the safety guidelines. According to the 9th wave of Jobson’s Coronavirus ECP Survey, conducted from May 8 to 12, eye care practitioners are hopeful they can ultimately return to normal hours with their full, rehired staff. For now, though, they’re working at or anticipate about 50% typical patient volume.

The latest survey shows about 64% of respondents have opened their practices in areas that are permitted to resume regular business. Of this cohort, about a third have been open in some capacity for more than a month, while 34% have been open for less than a week and 29% for one to two weeks. Still, most ECPs intend to keep telehealth services in place, with 88% of those still closed and 90% of open locations offering these measures.

In the 9th wave survey, 47% of open locations report they are open at their normal hours of operation and 44% have a shortened schedule. The average number of patients their practices are seeing is 14.5, compared with the 28.5 they would normally see in their day-to-day business. Closed practices are optimistic that they will reopen immediately, and 46% believe that can survive another one or two months of not being permitted to open.

Among the practice owners that have applied for the CARES Act relief package, 86% have been approved.

Practice owner priorities currently revolve around paying for rent and utilities, hiring back staff, acquiring personal protective equipment and putting together a new marketing strategy. When asked about plans to rehire previously laid off staff, 46% of respondents have something in mind and 44% have already gone through the rehiring process. About 69% of ECPs are confident that all of their laid off staff will be rehired.

Understandably, safety precautions are on everyone’s minds, as 58% of respondents note that patients are more willing to reschedule if they are comfortable with the precautions adopted in the office. Among the open practices, 94% have committed to changing their sanitization processes, 91% have reduced the number of patients in their office at the same time and 89% screen with questions and taking temperatures.

While doctors have been wearing masks, gloves, face shields, gowns and goggles, 50% of respondents from practices still closed are somewhat concerned and 21% are very concerned about acquiring the personal protection equipment for themselves, staff and patients.

Click here to view the complete survey results.