Marketing, packaging, positioning. Call it what you like. Its how you get patients into your office. Its how I get you to read whats inside this issue. Without it, our businesses would falter.

We all know that, in truth, what really matters is that which lies behind the facade of outside appearance. Its the knowledge that Reviews articles impart that really counts. And, its the quality of personalized care that you deliver that is at the heart of what you do as a practicing optometrist. But none of that really matters if you cant draw an audience. Its a tired old phrase, but it still rings true: Image is everything. In this issue of Review, we tackle that arguably unfortunate truth.

I Was Dissed on Angies List is a MUST read. In it, optometrists Brian Chou and Walt Mayo explore the perils of online rating sites and the effect they could have on your professional reputation.

For better or worse, more and more consumers are turning to Internet reviews to guide their purchasing decisions. The practice has become so commonplace that many vendors now encourage their customers to rate their wares online. This transparency is reshaping not only the way we do business, but also the way we interact with the world around us. Whats more, optometry is a prime candidate for online rating site inclusion.

Drs. Chou and Mayo note: Because optometry straddles rendering professional services and selling material goods, optometry will receive online ratings not only for Web sites that rate physicians, but also those rating businesses in general, alongside plumbers and roofers.

So, what do you do if you are given a poor review by a tech-savvy zealot who wants to share his experience with the world? How do you combat the negative image that he or she has now branded your practice with? Perhaps one strategy is to get your patients to think differently about whats inside.

Contact lenses, for instance, are frequently thought of as commodity items, as opposed to medical devices. Uninformed patients fail to recognize the consequences of poor contact lens care, much less the multi-factorial approach thats needed to attain a great fit, superb vision and healthy ocular surface. To that end, this months OSC, The Medical Model Contact Lens Evaluation, recommends you retool your approach to your contact lens assessments. In doing so, Jack Schaeffer, O.D., illustrates how you can elevate your patients understanding of the contact lens exam, which in turn, will not only improve care, but also may help your patients better understand the type of service you provide.

While Drs. Chou and Mayo make it clear that medical practice is by no means immune to online rating, if you can make the most of what happens inside your four walls, you can more effectively direct what happens outside.

Vol. No: 146:04Issue: 4/15/2009