When a Doctor Knows, it Shows: An Empirical Analysis of Doctors’ Responses in Q&A Forum of an Online Healthcare Portal
Posted: 13 Jul 2017 Last revised: 26 May 2018
Date Written: July 6, 2017
Question-Answer (Q&A) forums are gaining popularity as a user-engagement tool to drive traffic on multi-service portals. In a platform market model, demand-side users seek answers from the supply-side users, since such answers can indicate value offered, reduce buyer uncertainty and offer social proof. Analyzing user-generated content (UGC) on Q&A forum of a prominent healthcare portal, we find that the introduction of doctors’ responses has a significant causal impact on demand-side user perception of medical services offered. More importantly, our research suggests that doctors’ search ranking, experience, qualifications, transparency in appointment booking, and service fees moderate the effect of doctors’ Q&A responses on user recommendations. Further, the presence and activity levels of other doctors’ responses in the same specialty and in the same city generate negative spillover effects and reduce the effectiveness of the focal doctor’s responses.
Keywords: healthcare, Q&A forums, digital platforms, spillover effect, user-generated content
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