PACIS 2021 Proceedings

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Sustaining user engagement is a major challenge for mobile platforms, particularly in telehealth. Patients’ initial interactions with healthcare providers may influence their subsequent engagement. However, little is understood on the role of different interactive communication media of the first service. This study investigates the media richness of the first service communication and its effect on subsequent patient engagement on a leading Chinese mobile platform for mental healthcare. We find that the first service via a channel with high media richness leads patients to more participation, measured by service frequency and payment amount in the following month. The results are statistically significant and consistent across multiple identification strategies, including matching and instrumental variable analysis. The study integrates and extends the literature on mobile healthcare, media richness, and user engagement, and offers a viable communication strategy for mobile platforms to leverage rich media channels to sustain user engagement.

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