Best Practices in KOL Management


Thought leaders play a critical role throughout every stage of the development of new pharmaceutical products. In fact, success in the pharmaceutical sector is often linked to an organization’s ability to build, maintain and manage relationships with Key Opinion Leaders (KOL). Despite this, KOL relationship management is a challenging component of brand promotion that leaders are still struggling to fully understand.

KOLs play a critical role in educating the medical and scientific communities to build awareness about the latest medical therapies and novel mechanisms of action. In order to ensure success, organizations must identify the key elements of KOL management excellence, from structure and strategies to MSL roles and KOL activity assessment. From our recent research, we found the following key insights surrounding KOL management:

  • Medical Affairs Primarily Shares Responsibility for KOL Management: Some form of cross-functional responsibility between Medical Affairs and Marketing is also common. Regulatory pressures and the growing importance of scientific objectivity has given Medical Affairs and important edge.
  • Transparent Management Processes: Being transparent, easy to work with and using open and honest communication is key. It is also critical to match talents with needs required at the different stages of the product lifecycle. Be decisive and listen!
  • Exploring & Implementing New Technology in KOL Management: The use of web-based systems to manage event and payment processes has increased recently. Leaders are also utilizing specialized software packages, such as Datavision.  Having virtual advisory boards made up of KOLs to ask about industry interaction, the MSL role, and their preferences is also an area that leaders are exploring within KOL Management.

As one interviewed participant from our research put it, “KOL relationship management has changed very quickly. I’ve found that large companies have difficulty adapting in a timely manner.” Understanding how to effectively approach KOL management is tricky, but critical in today’s ever-changing healthcare environment.

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