Conference Roundup

Acknowledge what happened in 2020 to go forward in 2021, says industry experts

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During a presentation at Hawaiian Eye and Retina 2021, William B. Rabourn Jr, Managing Principal, Medical Consulting Group, LLC and James D. Dawes, MHA, CMPE, COE, President and Founder, J.Dawes Group discussed how the pandemic impacted practices and what changes are being made in 2021.

The duo polled the audience on a number of questions related to their practices’ response to COVID-19.

As information became available, could you have anticipated a pandemic and the shutdown of elective surgeries?
The majority of respondents—62%—said that no, they did not anticipate the scope and length of shutdown caused by the pandemic. Rabourn and Dawes both said it was clear no one was ready for what 2020 had in store, leading to questions about how to apply for PPP loans and if they should furlough employees.

Did your practice lay off or furlough employees?
The answers provided by the audience were evenly split for this question, with Dawes saying that the decision to lay off or furlough employees often came down to survival.

Did your practice lay off or furlough physicians or optometrists?
Unlike with employees, the majority—78%—of respondents said they did not furlough physicians or optometrists. Changes in compensation structure or responsibilities were solutions in some practices.

Did your practice apply or accept round 1 PPP loans?
Overall, 85% said their practice applied for PPP loans. Rabourn said working with small, local, or regional banks was easier than working with the bigger national banks during the PPP loan application process.

Are clinic volumes back to pre-COVID numbers?
According to the presenters, the responses were pretty encouraging. The majority of respondents said their clinical volume was at or over 90% of pre-COVID numbers, with 22% saying they had surpassed pre-COVID volume.

Are surgical volumes back to pre-COVID numbers?
Similar to clinic numbers, the majority of respondents said their volume was at or over 90% of what it was pre-COVID.

Did your practice embrace a new technology to address patient care or patient education since reopening? More than half (52%) said that they did embrace new technology and another 19% said they were considering it. This is one positive that came out of the pandemic, according to the Dawes.
How long will it take to get back to the cataract surgery volume of 2019?
According to the respondents, cataract surgery rates should bounce back within 12 months.

Rabourn WB and Dawes JD. What’s New for 2021? Presented at: Hawaiian Eye and Retina 2021.

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