Purpose The purpose of this paper is to identify and analyze factors influencing the mutual relationship between patients and medical units in the virtual environment. Since introduction of the internet and other electronic tools for medical services provision is at the very initial stage, it is necessary to examine factors which condition engagement of patients and medical units in building bilateral relations in a new virtual environment and to develop relationship models on the health services market. Designmethodologyapproach The paper presents findings of the field study conducted in Poland, being a representative market under transition. Surveys were conducted among patients and medical units by means of structured questionnaires. The identification of relationship factors was based on the approach used in consumer behavior models, where the method of the socalled summary of variables is left behind. Findings According to research results, the most important factors affecting relationships between patients and medical units in the virtual environment include the motivation, ability and market opportunity. With respect to patients, the most powerful factor is represented by the ability, whereas with respect to medical units by the market opportunity. Practical implications Identified factors and developed models may be widely applied in practical operation of medical units, particularly in developing marketing programs for introduction of virtual service and communication tools, as well as in building patient loyalty programs. Originalityvalue The paper is one of the first to have defined factors determining relationships on the virtual healthcare market and to have provided useful insights into the subject. Moreover, it constitutes a basis for future studies. The findings can greatly contribute to development of customer behavior and partnership marketing theories.
EuroMed Journal of Business – Emerald Publishing
Published: Apr 26, 2013
Keywords: Poland; Health care; Consumer behaviour; Patients; Medical units; Modelling; Relationship models; Virtual environment; Healthcare market
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