Academic journal article Journal of Electronic Commerce Research

From Offline Healthcare to Online Health Services: The Role of Offline Healthcare Satisfaction and Habits

Academic journal article Journal of Electronic Commerce Research

From Offline Healthcare to Online Health Services: The Role of Offline Healthcare Satisfaction and Habits

Article excerpt

1.Introduction

Due to the rapid development of information technologies and the huge demand for medical services, it is increasingly popular to deliver health services through the Internet [Hardey 2001; Kvedar et al. 2014]. Many Internet-based platforms, such as online communities, forums, and websites are built to deliver online health service (OHS), from which patients can get both informational and emotional support [Berkman et al. 2000; Yan et al. 2014]. However, a case study of a famous OHS website in China, namely "Hao Daifu Zaixian"1, indicated that only a small percentage of its visitors used the online service (less than 1%), which was far below that of E-commerce [Moe et al. 2004]. Thus, it is a critical issue for online health service suppliers to uncover the underlying reasons behind the low usage rate and then to improve the diffusion of the OHSs.

The physicians on the OHS websites provide health services online in their spare time [Lagu et al. 2010], whereby the OHS can enable them to meet the medical demands that offline healthcare providers cannot fulfill [Schramm-Klein et al. 2005]. In this regard, for instance, if the patients are located in remote areas from a hospital or might feel an urgent need to visit a hospital personally, the OHS can provide a more convenient and easy approach for patients to access health services. Therefore, the OHS extends traditional offline health services and satisfies the unfulfilled medical demands that offline healthcare fails to accomplish. Accordingly, individuals' viewpoints towards OHS are closely associated with their previous experiences with offline healthcare [Hou et al. 2010; Ye 2010], which are always manifested by user satisfaction as an overall evaluation [Chiu et al. 2012; Fang et al. 2014; Kim et al. 2007]. Although it has long been considered as a key predictor to service acceptance, user satisfaction has thus far only been studied in the same context, i.e., online (offline) satisfaction influences online (offline) service acceptance or repurchase.

According to the Expectation Confirmation Theory, when individuals are satisfied with their current conditions, they are less likely to switch to a new situation; in fact it is only when they are less satisfied with their current conditions that they are willing to upgrade from their current conditions [Bhattacherjee 2001; Tseng et al. 2011]. Thus, the previous conditions can play a significant role in determining individuals' acceptance of an innovation [Zhang et al. 2017]. Even though the theoretical recognition by the Innovation Diffusion Theory has exposed the influence of previous conditions (without the innovation) on innovation diffusion [Rogers 2010], limited research has been conducted to explore this impact in the technology acceptance literature [Sun et al. 2016]. Specifically, in this context, it remains unclear whether offline conditions (i.e., user satisfaction on the offline healthcare) can exert effects on online healthcare acceptance. Identifying this relationship will provide insights for the practitioners (i.e. online service providers) into how to promote their online service according to offline conditions. There is also knowledge advancement on the underlying mechanism of the transition from offline service to online service. Hence, the first objective of our study is to answer the following question: How is the user satisfaction on offline healthcare related to OHS use intention?

Moreover, the role of habit in IT use and human behavior has attracted increasing scholars' attention in recent years [Chiu et al. 2012; Chiu et al. 2014; Khalifa et al. 2007]. Many studies have proposed that usage habits can shape the human decision process. A habit, as an unconcious process, can influence the impacts of concious processes on decision outcomes [Chiu et al. 2014]. Individuals with strong behavioral habits will rely more on their past behavior rather than their cognitive evaluation and vice versa [Chiu et al. …

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