When “alternative” is paired with “healthcare,” these terms come to mind: acupuncture, massage, herbal medicine, or some other nontraditional approaches to health and wellness. The message not often conveyed by the term “alternative healthcare” is retail medicine, workplace medical clinic, telemedicine, medical tourism, or any other innovations in healthcare delivery. Yet these nontraditional access points to care have, more or less, become part of the landscape of a consumerdirected healthcare marketplace (see LaPenna 2009a; 2009b). In addition, the Internet has become a ubiquitous (if still not standard) player in accessing healthcare, used by people as “a means to accelerate the pace of discovery, widen social networks, and sharpen the questions someone might ask when they do get to talk to a health professional” (Fox 2009).
The lesson here for healthcare executives is to be cognizant of a simple fact: Most of the available alternative access points are disconnected from the provider networks and other resources that your organization spent many years and lots of capital to develop. Watch the environment closely, and seize the opportunities it presents.