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Medical Devices and MedTech

The Roles Key Opinion Leaders or Thought Leaders Play in the Pharmaceutical and Medical Devices Industry

By OSG Team on December 29, 2018

Who is a Key Opinion Leader (KOL), or more specifically a Thought Leader?

KOLs are highly influential medical experts and advisors in their domain and are respected and relied upon by their peers to provide a true assessment of the efficacy and safety of a drug or a device. This is why scientific discussions/forums initiated by KOLs are recognized and tend to stand out in this crowded and media-saturated environment, making KOLs true thought leaders.

In healthcare, KOLs contribute at various stages of the drug/device life cycle, starting from discovery and R&D to marketing and end-user outreach. They help in understanding various aspects of a product, including the needs of patients, and guiding the clinical trial design to be more relevant and outcome-based. They thereby help companies understand patient behavior before recommending one drug or device over another.

Healthcare companies now realize that they cannot rely merely on DTC channels and sales force efforts to increase their revenues. They are now increasingly relying on KOLs to help establish the knowledge base for their products and expand their reach in different markets. It is estimated that pharmaceutical companies spend nearly 15-25% of their marketing budget on speaking events involving KOLs.

It is, therefore, true to say that the companies who identify, create, and maintain meaningful relationships with the KOLs will reap benefits in the future with expanded market share and increased revenue.

On the other hand, not knowing your Key Opinion Leaders could hamper or mislead your way in understanding key questions that prevail in a fast-growing and complex industry like pharmaceuticals or medical devices. It is imperative to know the answers to questions such as:

  • Whom to trust for their expertise?
  • Who are the physicians/researchers that are influencing their peers?
  • How can the company’s local, national, and global reach be extended?
  • How can the needs, opinions, concerns, and difficulties of patients be understood?
  • How to raise awareness of a new drug for better patient engagement?
  • How to absorb patient participation in clinical trials as well as help disseminate trial results via trusted sources?
  • How to find accomplished investigators/collaborators for clinical trials, advisors for advisory boards, influential speakers for peer-to-peer programs, etc.?

The list doesn’t end here – these are just a few questions that pharma or med device companies have to address in order to be competitive in this dynamic industry.

How can OSG help?

Developing a new drug/device is a costly affair and involves a lot of risk at each step of the life cycle. Companies will have various concerns about whether their drug will get approval from regulatory bodies in this highly regulated environment or if they will lose market share to competitors. A thought leader can help companies answer these questions and many more. Thus, identifying the right leader becomes essential for a company.

OSG follows an organized approach towards KOL identification, profiling, and mapping to determine the exact influence KOLs have. This in turn helps companies answer wider questions during the entire life-cycle of a drug/device.

– Who are the highly regarded people in a particular domain capable of being next-generation leaders?
– Who are the leaders who will help us in decreasing the risk and increasing the chances of success for a drug/device?

– How can a company stay relevant in this ever-changing industry and at the same time remain consistent?

– Not all KOLs are equal, there are various types, including but not limited to, established thought leaders with various capabilities and development objectives. In order to engage KOLs most effectively, it becomes crucial to understand these aspects in detail.

– Which KOLs will fit in different situations and who are the peers they will have a direct as well as indirect influence on?
– This not only helps to map the right KOLs to their peers at the right stage of the life-cycle (be it R&D or marketing), but also helps in identifying the immediate unmet needs to be addressed in a domain.