Understanding the Digital Resilience of Physicians during the COVID-19 Pandemic: An Empirical Study

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Publication History

Received: November 30, 2020
Revised: July 1, 2021; January 15, 2022; April 29, 2022
Accepted: June 30, 2022
Published Online as Articles in Advance: February 28, 2023
Published in Issue: March 1, 2023


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The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the urgent need for healthcare entities to develop resilient strategies to cope with disruptions caused by the pandemic. This study focuses on the digital resilience of certified physicians who adopted an online healthcare community (OHC) to acquire patients and conduct telemedicine services during the pandemic. We synthesize the resilience literature and identify two effects of digital resilience—the resistance effect and the recovery effect. We use a proprietary dataset that matches online and offline data sources to study the digital resilience of physicians. A difference-in-differences (DID) analysis shows that physicians who adopted an OHC had strong resistance and recovery effects during the pandemic. Remarkably, after the COVID-19 outbreak, these physicians had 35.0% less reduction in medical consultations in the immediate period and 31.0% more bounce-back in the subsequent period as compared to physicians who did not adopt the OHC. We further analyze the sources of physicians’ digital resilience by distinguishing between new and existing patients from both online and offline channels. Our subgroup analysis shows that, in general, digital resilience is more pronounced when physicians have a higher online reputation rating or have more positive interactions with patients on the OHC platform, providing further support for the mechanisms underlying digital resilience. Our research has significant theoretical and managerial implications beyond the context of the pandemic.

Additional Details
Author Yinghao Liu, Xin Xu, Yong Jin, and Honglin Deng
Year 2023
Volume 47
Issue 1
Keywords Digital resilience, resistance effect, recovery effect, online healthcare community, COVID-19 pandemic, natural experiment
Page Numbers 391-422
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