PACIS 2019 Proceedings


The medical service on online health communities (OHCs) has created an additional touch point whereby physicians can interact with patients and extends physicians’ service from hospitals to the online environment. As the supplement and improvement of physicians’ diagnosis and treatment services, online consultation services can make full use of physicians’ spare time. Despite heated debates about the pros and cons of the online services to the traditional services in the hospitals, little empirical work has been conducted to examine it. We seek to understand and measure the impacts of physicians’ various activities online on their outpatient visits in the hospitals. By collecting a panel dataset from an OHC and a hospital in China, we find that participation in the OHCs leads to an increase in outpatient visits. We provide insights for physicians about how to increase patient visits in the emerging era of the Internet medical.