Most optometrists around the country have reopened to patientcare after COVID-19 closures and are now facing the challenges of a new reality in patientcare. On top of navigating the financial setbacks, there are the new normal of performing patient care while wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), screening each patient for COVID-19 symptoms and taking temperatures at the door, the extra cleaning and managing of waiting areas of optical spaces –and it’s not going anywhere any time soon. To complicate matters even more, there’s so much unknown about COVID-19 that as each new study gets published, our protocols for handling office and patient safety are needing to constantly evolve and change.
Feeling overwhelmed by that paragraph? That’s where a new initiative backed by The Vision Council is poised to help. ReopenEyecare.com is a hub for information, resources, and data to help doctors not just reopen their practice, but to maintain the health of their practices long term in the face of this evolving situation. We’re joined on this podcast by Dr. Justin Manning, Executive Vice President of Healthy Eyes Advantage and the leading member of the advisory board for ReopenEyecare, and Dr. Katie Greiner, Chief Operating Officer at Northeast Ohio Eye Surgeons and a member serving on the advisory board.
“RepoenEyecare.com was born out of a collaboration of several industry leaders coming together to share how they were going to work to move their companies forward, and the idea of how industry can help support independent practitioners as they reopen their offices,” Dr. Manning explains. Everyone participating in the Reopen Eyecare initiative is volunteering their time and expertise to make this platform happen as a nonpolitical, noncommercial source of information. “A lot of our learning curves are built into the website,” Dr. Greiner explains. “Instead of you having to read through pages and pages of CDC material, it’s there on the website in digestible, easy to read segments.”
One of the great additions to the website above and beyond office protocols, financial advice, marketing tips for reaching patients, and searchable guides to federal and state regulations on reopening, the website also shares consumer behavior insights to help doctors anticipate and gauge patient attitudes to purchasing eyewear or coming in for an eye exam during COVID-19. According to research by The Vision Council, patient willingness to pursue eyecare during COVID-19 is trending in a good direction. Back in April, 38% of people were saying they planned to postpone eyecare and eyewear purchases, but as of May 4th, only 25% of survey respondents say they plan to delay eyecare or glasses purchases. Dr. Manning and Dr. Greiner share that many offices have seen an increase in patient engagement and capture rates as offices have reopened across the country, even as offices are operating on reduced schedules. “Data and knowledge is power,” Dr. Manning explains about utilizing the information provided on the website, “Knowing this data helps you market effectively, communicate effectively, and if you feel like you’re struggling to get patients in, this data can help to point you in the right direction of where to focus your attention in your practice where the demand and opportunity is higher.”
ReopenEyecare.com is a resource that will be continuously updated by the advisory board members with “on the ground” feedback from their own experiences and those of colleagues and peers that leave feedback on the website requesting content that is needed for their practices. The resources included on the website are available for use and distribution by anyone involved in the vision community.