Image courtesy of fda.gov
Much attention has been paid to reopening vision care practices during the “new normal” imposed by COVID-19. Will we ever return to “normal” or has the way we deliver vision care permanently changed? According to Jayanth Bhuvaraghan, Chief Mission Officer, Essilor International, in a recent article in Devex, “Every crisis is an opportunity for us to look at ways of working better and I think this crisis will throw open more opportunities than ever. … We should look for learnings, bring innovation around efficiency, and embrace technology.”
What have we learned? The most important lesson is that we need to pay more attention to hygiene. I admit to remembering the days when opticians stirred their coffee with PD sticks. Fortunately, pupillometers were likely instrumental in diminishing that habit. Still, how many of us can say that we cleaned every frame a patient tried on every time before it went back on the board? Did we wash our hands between every patient? We will surely continue to perform those tasks going forward, even when the threat of the virus declines.
I believe that staying at home has shrunken our world view to our own four walls and those of our own practices. With such immediate concerns for ourselves and our own patients, it’s easy to forget there’s a whole world out there that needs vision care. The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) reminds us that more than 2.5 billion people around the globe need vision care, and myopia will continue to increase in the coming decades. Will the already difficult access to vision care for many populations become worse with desperately needed funds having been depleted to fight the pandemic? IAPB notes, “If we are not prepared to address the access connection soon, we will fail to meet one of the most basic needs of our global population.” Information, education, better implementation of technology and maintaining awareness of vision care needs are critical to maintaining vision care during and as we emerge from the pandemic.
While living in the urgency of now, it is critical to keep thinking of the future. Telemedicine deserves careful consideration, as does efficient use of EHR, practice management platforms and online ordering. Demand for services that were postponed during the height of the crisis will increase as restrictions ease. Practices need to consider how to handle that increase in a safe and efficient way. 20/20 Magazine provides you with the information you need, not only to weather the current storm, but to adapt to the coming climate. In addition to articles and resources, we have a sale on our CE courses, BOGO through July 15. Check it out at 2020mag.com/ce and enter CESummerSale at checkout.