Management Review ›› 2021, Vol. 33 ›› Issue (11): 185-198.

• Platform Economy and Value Creation • Previous Articles    

The Effect of Electronic Word-of-Mouth on Patients' Choice for Physicians——Evidence from Online Doctor Reviews

Ta Yuqi1, Fu Hongqiao2   

  1. 1. National School of Development, Peking University, Beijing 100871;
    2. School of Public Health, Peking University, Beijing 100191
  • Received:2020-09-04 Published:2022-01-12

Abstract: With the rapid development of Internet technology, electronic/online word-of-mouth (eWOM) has increasingly significant influence on consumer behavior in traditional consumption areas such as movies, books and restaurants. However, there are few studies on how eWOM affects patients' choice of physicians. Using transaction data and online reviews from Haodf.com, one of the leading third-party digital healthcare platforms in China, this study investigates the effect of eWOM on physicians' patient volume, as well as the moderating effect of product involvement between eWOM and patient choice. Results based on panel data and fixed effect models show that the number of online reviews has a significantly positive impact on volumes of online telephone consultation service and appointment scheduling, while the fraction of negative reviews has a significantly negative effect on online healthcare volumes to a greater extent than positive reviews. Moreover, the impact of eWOM on appointment scheduling is greater than that on telephone consultation service, which provides suggestive evidence for the positive moderating effect of product involvement. Compared with existing literature, we find that the effect of eWOM on consumers is larger in the digital healthcare field, which has a higher level of information asymmetry. This study has implications for improving medical quality information disclosure and optimizing the design of internet medical platform.

Key words: electronic/online word-of-mouth, digital healthcare, patient choice, awareness effect, persuasive effect