Mark Tosh, Senior Editor

Mark covers news and feature coverage of national and regional optical retailers, managed vision care organizations, software systems and technology. He works closely with other members of the VM editorial staff to monitor developments in online optical retailing and other industry issues. Mark is a contributor to dba, a twice monthly e-newsletter profiling successful local and regional retail/optometric businesses while addressing their decision-making needs. Contact Mark at mtosh@jobson.com.

The Time Is Right for Telehealth

By Mark Tosh
Monday, June 22, 2020 1:00 AM The genie, as they say, is out of the bottle. This is the genie known as telehealth, telemedicine or even tele-optometry. Whatever one calls it, there certainly has been a rush of activity in which individual doctors provide remote diagnosis and treatment services to an individual patient.

Making the Leap into Telehealth

By Andrew Karp and Mark Tosh
Monday, June 22, 2020 12:40 AM Many optometrists began using ocular telehealth this spring, when the spread of COVID-19 and subsequent shutdowns of optometric practices and optical retail stores cut them off from seeing patients in person. We spoke with several optometrists who are new to telehealth about what their experience has been like. They report that remote consultations via a mobile app have proved to be an effective means of providing at least a basic level of care.

ECP Groups Support Members’ Access to Telehealth Solutions

By Andrew Karp and Mark Tosh
Monday, June 22, 2020 12:39 AM NEW YORK—With interest in telehealth on the rise across eyecare, several ECP alliances and buying groups have taken steps to help their independent OD members gain access to telehealth technologies and/or training resources. Among the groups providing such services to members are Healthy Eyes Advantage (HEA), Professional Eye Care Associates of America (PECAA), ABB Optical Group and the California Optometric Association (COA), among others.

Retailers Find Telehealth Options Improve the Patient Experience

By Andrew Karp and Mark Tosh
Monday, June 22, 2020 12:38 AM NEW YORK—With the spread of COVID-19, just about every aspect of life has been affected for U.S. consumers and patients, and health care ranks high among the part of life under transformation. One significant change is that today both patients and providers are asking themselves what “services” need to be in the office and what services can absolutely be done outside the office via video conference or other means of interacting with the patient.

Adjusting to the New Normal: How Ocular Telehealth Can Help

By Andrew Karp and Mark Tosh
Monday, June 22, 2020 12:36 AM As eyecare practices and optical retail stores across the country cautiously reopen and in-person appointments slowly resume, ECPs and their staffs are adjusting to new routines. Among the challenges they face are implementing procedures for social distancing, maintaining sanitary conditions and creating a more efficient workflow that accommodates the changing needs of both doctors and patients. We spoke with executives at some of the leading telehealth companies to find out how their systems and products can help practitioners and patients navigate the new normal.

Payers See Longer-Term Role for Telehealth in Eyecare

By Andrew Karp and Mark Tosh
Monday, June 22, 2020 12:35 AM NEW YORK—Managed vision care plans, across the board, are reporting greater interest and demand for telehealth options from both patients and providers. As ODs began using ocular telehealth more frequently in March as COVID-19 spread, there were also mounting questions and concerns among ECPs about how these new telehealth technologies would fit in with the policies of managed vision plans.

Direct-To-Consumers: DIY Eye Tests

By Andrew Karp and Mark Tosh
Monday, June 22, 2020 12:33 AM The boom in online retail sales and other direct to consumer services that began in mid-March has been one of many business success stories to result from COVID-19, and online vision testing is no exception. D2C vision care companies, including those offering online vision testing and personal vision tracking devices report that they have been doing brisk business lately, although actual sales figures can’t be confirmed. But even before COVID-19, D2C vision care companies say business was thriving.

Envisioning the Future of Ocular Telehealth

By Andrew Karp and Mark Tosh
Monday, June 22, 2020 12:32 AM Now that ocular telehealth’s long-term viability has been established, the question becomes: how can it continue to elevate the patient experience? The wide range of responses from optometrists and ocular telehealth executives points to a future in which virtual vision will integrate with conventional eyecare to satisfy patient needs and create new opportunities for practice and business growth.

Virtual Vision Care Grows Up

By Andrew Karp and Mark Tosh
Monday, June 22, 2020 12:30 AM NEW YORK—Ocular telehealth is trending hot these days, kicked into high gear by the coronavirus pandemic. More eye doctors and optical retailers than ever report they are now using telehealth to deliver virtual vision care, including many first-time users seeking to connect with patients who had been in lockdown.

Please (!) Let the Games Begin

By Mark Tosh
Friday, May 29, 2020 4:00 PM NEW YORK—This coronavirus situation has left many of us with more than enough time to contemplate the future, especially as it relates to our businesses and professions. What will optical retail look like in 2021? What about eyecare and independent optometry practices? How will the conventional sales call be transformed? What about industry meetings? The one thing that seems certain around all of these questions is that no one really knows right now what the future will look like. It’s going to be a wait-and-see evolution. Sports was more or less in this same boat in April, but now some of the pieces of the puzzle are beginning to fall into place.

Preparing for a Retail Reset

By Marge Axelrad and Mark Tosh
Thursday, May 21, 2020 12:30 AM How does a leader prepare for a never-known-before challenge? Pause. Breathe. Rely on colleagues. Get the real facts. Make a plan. Be prepared to change it. Do the right thing for your team, your employees, your company, your patients. As we examine the 2019 year past, VM asked a few of our Top 2020 U.S. Optical Retailer executive leaders about the pandemic and what it could mean for the future. 
- The Editors

2019’s Consolidation Impacted in Mid to Upper Tier, Growth of Value Sector

By Marge Axelrad and Mark Tosh
Monday, May 18, 2020 12:29 AM NEW YORK— Calendar sales of optical services and products at retail were healthy. In a market that grew to nearly $37.5 billion in the U.S., according to The Vision Council’s VisionWatch tracking, sales grew at a nice pace over the prior year, for all ECPs, regional and national companies. Business was solid, for companies large and small.

VM's Top 50 Sales Concentration Grows

By Marge Axelrad and Mark Tosh
Monday, May 18, 2020 12:28 AM NEW YORK—Comparable to prior VM Top 50 reports, there was a concentration of sales among the 2020 VM Top 50 U.S. Optical Retailers, accounting for an estimated $15.7 billion of a $37.5 billion total U.S. market for the 12 months ending Dec. 2019. The Top 10 optical retailers collectively comprise 85.4 percent of the Top 50’s collective U.S. optical retail sales, meaning that retail groups ranked numbers 11 through 50 comprise just under 15 percent of that remaining Top 50 group.

Listen Up, Tune In and Chill Out: People Turn to Podcasts for News and Information

By Mark Tosh
Friday, May 1, 2020 12:00 AM NEW YORK—Echoing an old line, it seems to be the best of times, and the worst of times, for podcasts and podcasters. Yes, most people have a lot more time on their hands and are looking for new forms of entertainment. But, on the other hand, commuting to work is way down. The train or bus routes that had been one of the places podcasting flourished have almost ceased to exist. The bottom line is that the podcast sector is a bit of an unknown right now as the U.S. market closes in on two months of work-from-home and a shelter-in-place mentality. One thing seems certain, though: news podcasts, including those focusing on COVID-19 developments, are among the most popular subjects among listeners.

The Patient Journey: An Ongoing Evolution

By Mark Tosh
Monday, April 20, 2020 12:30 AM Technology innovations and an emphasis on experiential concepts new to health care are driving significant changes in eyecare today, and these changes are influencing the way some patients approach eye exams and eyewear needs. Indeed, the eyecare practices that recognize what this new Patient Journey looks like—and that work toward adapting it—are better positioned to grow their practices by helping patients better understand their vision and eyewear solutions, according to industry leaders.