Professional medical advice at your fingertips: An empirical study of an online “Ask the doctor” platform

Xiaojuan Ma, Xinning Gui, Jiayue Fan, Mingqian Zhao, Yunan Chen, Kai Zheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Although timely access to professional medical advice is crucial for patient health outcomes, traditional offline, one-on-one patient-provider interactions are time-consuming and costly. Online “Ask the doctor” (AtD) services have become increasingly popular, because they allow patients and caregivers to obtain advice from medical professionals at a lower information and transaction cost. In this paper, we present an empirical study of Fenda, an innovative AtD platform recently introduced in China through which patients and caregivers can consult a wide variety of healthcare professionals for a small fee. Using qualitative research methods, we analyzed how patients and caregivers interact with medical professionals on this platform, focusing on the nature of the questions asked and potential motivation for using the platform. Based on the results, we derived implications for designing better online AtD services connecting patients and caregivers to medical professionals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number116
JournalProceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction
Issue numberCSCW
StatePublished - Nov 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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