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Disease risk and its moderating effect on the e-consultation market offline and online signals

Jia Li (School of Business, East China University of Science and Technology, Shanghai, China)
Jie Tang (School of Business, East China University of Science and Technology, Shanghai, China)
David C. Yen (School of Economics and Business, SUNY Oneonta, Oneonta, New York, USA)
Xuan Liu (School of Business, East China University of Science and Technology, Shanghai, China)

Information Technology & People

ISSN: 0959-3845

Article publication date: 5 August 2019

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the moderating effect of disease risk in terms of the major signals (i.e. status, reputation and self-representation) on the e-consultation platforms.

Design/methodology/approach

In this study, the proposed research hypotheses are tested using the transaction data collected from xywy.com (in Need of Therapy). In fact, xywy.com is one the leading e-consultation service websites in China that provides a platform for the interactions between the physicians and patients (Yu et al., 2016; Peng et al., 2015). Generally speaking, it has all the needed design elements and in other words, a standard e-consultation website should have such items/components as physician homepage, physician review, free consultation, paid consultation and recommendation systems.

Findings

The obtained results reveal that all attributes including status, reputation and self-representation have a positive impact on physician’s online order volume. Moreover, there is a positive moderating effect of disease risk onto the online reputation, indicating a higher effect exists for the diseases with high risk. However, the effect of offline status and online self-representation is not moderated by the disease risk, indicating market signals (online reputation) may have a stronger predictive power than seller signals (offline status and online self- representation), and therefore market signals are more effective when/if the disease risk is high.

Originality/value

E-consultation has gradually become a significant trend to provide the healthcare services, in the emerging economy such as China because of shortage of medical resources but having an adequate access in internet usage. The impacts of signals on the health care market have been validated by previous studies. However, the research focusing on the moderating effect of signaling environment in the health care industry is still lacking. As a result, the value of this research helps to bridge the aforementioned research gap.

Keywords

Citation

Li, J., Tang, J., Yen, D.C. and Liu, X. (2019), "Disease risk and its moderating effect on the e-consultation market offline and online signals", Information Technology & People, Vol. 32 No. 4, pp. 1065-1084. https://doi.org/10.1108/ITP-03-2018-0127

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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