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Digital healthcare retail: role of presence in creating patients' experience

S. Sreejesh (Marketing, Indian Institute of Management Kozhikode , Kozhikode, India)
Juhi Gahlot Sarkar ( Institute of Management Technology Ghaziabad , Ghaziabad, India)
Abhigyan Sarkar ( Institute of Management Technology Ghaziabad , Ghaziabad, India)

International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management

ISSN: 0959-0552

Article publication date: 10 June 2021

Issue publication date: 3 January 2022




The purpose of this study is to empirically examine the impact of technology-enabled service co-creation on patients' service patronage behaviour in healthcare retailing. The first objective is to examine the mediating roles of spatial presence and co-presence in the relationship between technology enabled co-creation and service experience. The second objective is to investigate if healthcare service experience impacts patients' relationship value with hospitals and subsequent patronage intention.


Data were collected from a sample of 516 customers of three leading hospitals in India during the social isolation period of COVID-19. The data were analysed using structural equation modelling.


The study results demonstrate that customers' favourably perceived technology-enabled co-creation generates feelings of spatial presence and co-presence in the technology-enabled platform. The feeling of presence enhances patients' health care service experiences which in turn predict their relationship value perceptions towards the healthcare service provider. Co-presence dominates as a mediator in terms of magnitude over spatial presence. The favourable value perception positively impacts patients' intention to come back to the same hospital.

Research limitations/implications

The study uses cross-sectional data, which does not incorporate any temporal variations in the investigated relationships. The study does not account for differences in government vs. private undertakings of healthcare system.

Practical implications

The findings envisage a digital healthcare retail system, where hospitals can enhance patients' perceptions of healthcare service experience, relational value and re-patronage intention, based on the digital mediated environment design elements, i.e. spatial presence and co-presence. As co-presence is a dominant factor, ensuring that human healthcare experts (rather than technology based e-service elements like chatbots) participate in healthcare service co-creation is of prime importance to provide enriching service experience to the patients.


The value of the research lies in extending the theories of presence, UTAUT and S-O-R to understand digital healthcare retailing, in order to identify the mechanism of how online co-creative platform can generate hospital patronage behaviour among patients through the serial mediation of presence, augmented service experience and relationship value.



Sreejesh, S., Sarkar, J.G. and Sarkar, A. (2022), "Digital healthcare retail: role of presence in creating patients' experience", International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 50 No. 1, pp. 36-54.



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