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 From Alternative Medicine a Definitive Guide to the Wellness Inventory - An Interview with Pioneering Entrepreneur Jim Strohecker 
 
The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Integrator Blog by . View all columns in series

Integrator: By the mid 1990s you were working on a huge project in the emerging internet world with which you are still involved, HealthWorld Online. Your partner was the first to hang the Integrator name on my work. It’s outlived Mothernatures.com and a score of other internet start-ups. How do you explain that?

Strohecker: I think that the power of our original vision and intent for HealthWorld Online (www.healthy.net) is responsible for our longevity, as we are about to enter our 14th year online. We made it through the early “wild west” days of the web, the peak of Internet expansion and speculation, and the Internet collapse of 2001. And in the most difficult periods, it was really dedication to the original mission that got us through. And on January 1, 2010, we are launching a totally redesigned and restructured site that we anticipate will successfully take us on the next leg of our journey.

HealthWorld Online was the world’s
first major health site focused on
alternative medicine, wellness and
self-care.

Two years before WEB MD,

we offered the first practitioner
referral network, the first online
global health calendar, and the
first worldwide free access to
Medline, for both consumers
and professionals.

After Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide had been successfully launched in the marketplace, I was looking for the next step, a way to move beyond the limitations presented by a 6 pound, 1100 page book, painstakingly typeset in Quark, with hundreds of contributors. It wasn’t practical to make the book available to people who could benefit from it worldwide, and it would probably be impractical to update the book for 8 or 10 years. Instead of a 1100 page book, wouldn’t it be great to be able to have people access thousands of expert articles, resources, practitioner referrals, calendar of events, and real time updates on key legislation affecting the practice of and access to alternative medicine on a federal and state level? Then, one day in the Fall of 1994, my nephew told me about an intriguing government system of interconnected computer networks known as the Internet. About the same time, I met a visionary businessman who asked me, “If you could do anything right now, what would you do?” In my reply and our subsequent discussion, the vision for a new online health and wellness network was born. Shortly thereafter, we created HealthWorld Online and started work on the world’s first major health site focused on alternative medicine, wellness and self-care.

Image
The first online portal for alternative medicine and wellness
Our primary vision for the company was to create an online consumer-oriented “health world” which could provide potentially life-saving alternative choices and solutions to people worldwide, to help prevent unnecessary human suffering. Secondarily, we wanted to use this new online medium to help organize the disparate fields of alternative medicine and their leading experts and organizations, in one virtual environment. This organized field of alternative medicine would interface with the complementary fields of wellness and fitness, to provide a powerful model of health. We referred to this coming together of parallel fields as creating a system of “WellCare” that could interface with the current “Healthcare” (SickCare) system, to form a more comprehensive system of “Integrated Health”.


The project of creating HealthWorld Online was even more collaborative, passionate and exciting than creating the Alternative Medicine book, as the alternative medicine community had the ability to participate in an emerging, revolutionary medium that had the potential giving the community a quantum push into the future, with the possibility of reaching hundreds of million people worldwide. At the same time, it was a new, unknown and unpredictable new medium. We worked closely with the community, particularly with the professional associations. In an effort to support getting the alternative medicine community represented on the web, we built 45 pro-bono web sites for professional associations, trade associations, educational institutes and consumer health organizations.

We realized that we had the ability to create a virtual health world, a “health village,” where people who were looking for a solution to a health concern or looking for a higher level of health and wellness could navigate down a range of pathways to explore a deep and broad reservoir of expert information, resources, and services.

After 15 months of intensive development, our site, www.healthy.net, was launched with over 20,000 pages of expert content (unheard of on the web at the time), some two years before WebMD. We offered the first practitioner referral network representing nearly 20 alternative medicine modalities, the first online global health calendar, and the first worldwide free access to Medline, for both consumers and professionals.
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 About The Author
Resumes are useful in employment decisions. I provide this background so that you may understand what informs the work which you may employ in your own. I have been involved as an organizer-writer in the emerging fields......moreJohn Weeks
 
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