Establishing & Coordinating an Effective KOL Engagement System


Regardless of all of the changes in the US healthcare system, the importance of biopharmaceutical company’s Key Opinion Leader (KOL) management program has not diminished. KOLs are still recognized as one of the most effective avenues for building awareness in scientific and medical communities. Due to increased regulatory scrutiny and declining access, pharmaceutical companies have placed an increased emphasis on a strategic approach to KOL management.

As the importance of thought leader management continues to increase, leaders must now, more than ever, fully understand current and evolving best approaches to creating and maintaining an integrated, strategically-focused though leader management  system. Key insights that were harvested from one of our most recent studies on this topic included:

  • Structure of Thought Leader Management Programs: Most respondents believe a decentralized TL management structure is not optimal, though almost 40% use a decentralized structure now. Most view a hybrid (48%) or centralized (38%) structure as optimal for modern Thought Leader engagement.
  • Identifying & Managing TLs: Participants listed KOL mapping as crucial to identifying & managing TLs. They also value the idea of placing a dedicated staff to manage/coordinate activities as highly important.
  • New Technologies: All the different pressures coming to bear on KOL management – including the Sunshine Act and access – point to the need for a software or internally shared information platform that informs users, or in the case of this one company a designated strategy function that oversees KOL interactions.
  • There is No Clear Career Path for Strategic KOL Staff: 80% of participants say their companies lack clear career paths for KOL strategy.

Many organizations have differing views on what’s needed for an effective KOL management system. Despite this, communication trends will continue to change and leaders should continually adjust their approaches in coordinating interactions with KOLs, the software systems they utilize to enhance KOL interactions, and become aware of other current trends in KOL identification.

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