Exploring the Benefits of Web 2.0 for Healthcare in Improving Doctor-Patient Relationship

Exploring the Benefits of Web 2.0 for Healthcare in Improving Doctor-Patient Relationship

Wen-Jang (Kenny) Jih (Middle Tennessee State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9787-4.ch019
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One of the defining characteristics of Web 2.0 is the phenomenon that the creator and the visitors of the webpage often work together to co-create and consume a wide variety of content (O’Reiley, 2007). Web log, or blog, is among the most popular Web 2.0 services and is rapidly receiving managers’ attention as a viable vehicle for communicating important messages among business constituencies. According to recent surveys on the state of blogosphere from blog tracking websites such as Wikipedia, Wordpress, Blogger, and Technorati, not only the numbers of blog writers and blog readers are still experiencing exponential growth rates and have reached multiple hundred million entries, the nature of the content and the purposes of blogging have also been expanded to cross far beyond the simple role of online journals as perceived a few years earlier. A specialized website tracking the blogosphere revealed that as much as 81% of U.S. online consumers trust information and advice from blogs (social4retail.com). The level of content diversity that characterizes the blogosphere is so high that many organizations either are currently using or actively experimenting with blogs to establish a convenient external communication platform. Some researchers even refer to blogs, along with other Web 2.0 services, as a new class of disruptive technology that promises to significantly impact many aspects of business decision making (McAfee, 2006; Bonabeau, 2009).

A highly specialized knowledge-intensive service industry, healthcare has long faced a multitude of problems, including rising operational costs and patient frustration. In striving to improve service quality and worker productivity, medical professionals have looked to a variety of information and knowledge technologies for powerful solutions in coping with these problems. Well-known examples of the technological solutions include automatic record keeping, patient monitoring systems, and just-in-time knowledge delivery (Davenport & Glaser, 2002; Pendleton & Hasler, 1983). Most of the efforts, however, have been focused on improving internal work practices to enhance service quality and increase resource utilization efficiency.

Whereas personnel productivity and efficient resource allocation within the healthcare institution are important internal measures of operational excellence, patient satisfaction is an important external measure of organizational success. Much research in marketing and information systems has revealed the significant impact of customer relationship management practices on customer satisfaction (e.g., Lee, et al., 2006; Jih & Lee, 2010). A common finding of these studies is the central role of quality relationship in ensuring customer satisfaction. In healthcare, the lack of trusting relationship between patients and medical personnel has also been identified as a source of other perception-related problems occurring in the process of medical service delivery and consumption (Pendleton & Hasler, 1983). Since effective and in-depth communication is essential in building and nurturing a trusting relationship in general and a patient-physician relationship in particular, healthcare personnel must improve their communication with patients on important concerns regarding illness symptoms, treatment options, and other healthcare-related issues - an important task in the service delivery process. Effective communication is instrumental in forming a shared mental model between the participants, which in turn helps with reduction of anxiety resulting from the lack of information and distrust. Therefore, quality relationship is more likely to be developed through a relationship learning process driven by effective communication (Selnes and Sallis, 2003).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Structural Equations Modeling: A family of multivariate analysis techniques that test a theoretical model.

Web 2.0: A collection of Web-enabled services that enables flexible distribution of user-created content. Popular examples include blogs and photograph sharing websites.

Internet-Mediated Market Orientation: Marketing activities driven by generation, dissemination, and application of market information through the Internet.

Blog: An informational website displaying user-posted content in reverse chronological order.

Customer Relationship Management: Marketing activities emphasizing maintaining long-term customer relationship over short-term, transaction-based relationship with customers.

Relationship Learning: A joint activity between two parties through sharing and joint interpretation of information.

Relationship Quality: The nature of relationship characterized by satisfaction, trust, and commitment between the involved parties.

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