The effect of doctors’ profile pictures in online healthcare platforms has been investigated in prior research. However, little attention has focused on professional signals conveyed by doctors’ online profile pictures. To address the above-mentioned gap, this study examines the roles of doctors’ profile pictures in patients’ online decision-making based on cue utilization theory and impression management theory. Our research finds that a picture indicating professional information (e.g., professional attire and professional background) matters in attracting patients’ interest and their decision-making. However, the impacts of professional information change according to patients’ illness severity. Specifically, patients with low-severity illnesses care more about professional attire in the stage of glancing physicians, while patients with high-severity illnesses care more about professional attire in the stage of decision making. These findings contribute to the domain knowledge of online service design and delivery, especially in the arena of online health services.


Paper Number 1446; Track Healthcare; Complete Paper



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