Information Disclosure via Platform Endorsement in Online Healthcare

58 Pages Posted: 16 Feb 2024 Last revised: 20 Feb 2024

See all articles by Jiajia Zhan

Jiajia Zhan

Imperial College Business School

Xu Zhang

London Business School

Hongqiao Fu

Peking University - School of Public Health

Date Written: February 14, 2024

Abstract

Online healthcare platforms enhance healthcare access and equity by removing geographic barriers and facilitating doctors to serve underprivileged patients. However, they exacerbate information asymmetry due to the vast number of doctors available online. To mitigate this and to motivate leading doctors to improve their practices, platforms have introduced endorsements, awarding select doctors badges for exceptional performance. This study investigates the impact of platform endorsement on both patients' demand and doctors' decisions on pricing, quantity, the mix between free and paid services, and quality by exploiting a leading Chinese platform's "Good Doctor of the Year'' endorsement program. Using the Generalized Synthetic Control method, we find that endorsement boosts demand for endorsed doctors, who respond by increasing prices and provision of paid services while maintaining service quality. However, we find that endorsement leads to an unintended consequence of a decrease in free services provided by endorsed doctors, thereby disadvantaging underprivileged patients. Notably, this reduction in free services is more pronounced among ``pro-social" doctors due to their reluctance to raise prices and limited capacity. These findings highlight the need for platforms and policymakers to understand the nuanced impacts of information disclosure on doctors' decisions and the potential unequal effects across different groups of patients in online healthcare, a sector with significant societal implications.

Note:

Funding Information: Financial support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China [grant number 72103005] and the Taikang Yicai Public Health and Epidemic Fund [grant number 2021015].

Conflict of Interests: We declare that there are no conflicts of interest regarding this manuscript.

Keywords: online healthcare, platform endorsement, doctor consultations, paid services, free services

JEL Classification: D40, I11, I14, L15, M31

Suggested Citation

Zhan, Jiajia and Zhang, Xu and Fu, Hongqiao, Information Disclosure via Platform Endorsement in Online Healthcare (February 14, 2024). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4726380 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4726380

Jiajia Zhan

Imperial College Business School ( email )

South Kensington Campus
Exhibition Road
London, SW7 2AZ
United Kingdom

Xu Zhang (Contact Author)

London Business School ( email )

Sussex Place
Regent's Park
London, London NW1 4SA
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://xu-zhang.com/

Hongqiao Fu

Peking University - School of Public Health ( email )

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