Improving the effectiveness of online healthcare platforms: An empirical study with multi-period patient-doctor consultation data

Yefei Yang, Xiaofei Zhang, Peter K.C. Lee

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

72 Citations (Scopus)


In the “internet plus” era, online healthcare platforms provide an effective way of easing the demand for hospitals, and their popularity among patients has been increasing sharply in recent years. Such platforms' effectiveness depends on whether there are adequate interactions between patients and doctors through multiple online consultations. Nonetheless, compared with face-to-face consultations, online patients' trust to the doctors and switching costs are often lower. Thus, many of them (in particular, those with chronic diseases) may terminate their cases after the very first consultation, jeopardizing the effectiveness of the online platforms. We adopt a trust development perspective to examine how doctors' online consultation behaviours can reduce patients' switching of doctors and how they enhance patient satisfaction, thereby offering insights to make such healthcare platforms more efficient and effective. By analyzing 77,248 patients' behaviours on an online healthcare platform covering the period 2014–2015, we find that the response time, the depth of interaction, and service content during the first consultation influence the patients' subsequent consultation behaviours significantly. Also, the effects of doctor response time, service content, and depth of interaction on patient satisfaction are different in different periods. Our findings offer managerial insights on managing patients' continuous consultation behaviours and enhancing their satisfaction by considering the time scope and service type. Also, they offer important insights into how online medical care can be delivered more effectively, so relieving the demand for traditional healthcare system capacity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)70-80
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Production Economics
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019


  • Doctor behaviour
  • Multi-period data
  • Online healthcare
  • Patient satisfaction
  • Service operations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Business,Management and Accounting
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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