Around two decades ago, key opinion leader (KOL) identification and mapping was a bleeding edge concept. Hard to fathom but at the time, therapeutics companies were using word-of-mouth, sales force recommendations, and even publications alone as a primary means for identifying the thought leaders in a given disease state area. Using an analytical approach for KOL identification was a foreign concept to many. Our team fondly recalls spending hours with clients trying to convince them about the need to try a new approach that could yield superior results.
Fast forward twenty years. KOL identification and mapping of influential physicians are now ubiquitous elements in marketing and medical affairs strategies. The demand for greater accuracy and granularity has led to increasingly sophisticated KOL identification processes. This involving the integration of disparate databases, value adding the data, independently weighing and scoring, and sophisticated profiling.
KOL mapping is not limited to pharma and devices
KOL identification and mapping is designed to empower pharmaceutical, medical device, and biotech companies. This is accomplished through targeting the ideal physicians with whom alignment will ensure a product’s success. However, we should continue to challenge ourselves and our life science colleagues to look beyond this group and intent and recognize where else we can apply this state-of-the-art approach to drive the business forward.
Firstly, there is no reason why a KOL identification and mapping needs to be limited to drugs and devices. There are other types of products and services such as diagnostic tests and training initiatives that are used by select segments of our industry. Analogous to drugs and devices, often their acceptance is driven by data and supported by highly respected individuals to whom the decision makers look to for guidance.
Think beyond physicians…
Secondly, why only target physicians? Our research involving over 500 nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) has identified this group as a vital component for healthcare delivery. In certain cases they represent somewhere between 5% to almost 20% of the market depending on a product class. In total, well over 100,000 NPs and PAs are delivering health services in the largest market. Additionally, these professionals are influenced by their peers. We also note a significant presence of the NP/PA role in Europe.
…And even beyond clinicians for that matter
Thirdly, why limit such analyses to only clinicians? Recent research has indicated Chief Nursing Officers (CNOs) and Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) are critical for the adoption of new training tools at hospitals. These individuals can be identified and profiled based on predefined criteria. Using advanced means, we are able to identify the top one to two percent that are the most likely to be purchasers of a solution.
Professional societies, patient and advocacy groups and policy organizations are key entities of the stakeholder ecosystem
Lastly, new targets do not have to be limited to individuals. The same approach for identifying and profiling individuals is highly applicable for profiling institutions and organizations. Our work with industry leaders has repeatedly demonstrated a strong desire to identify and reach out to societies, institutions, advocacy groups, policy groups, government bodies, and others that form the ecosystem for a disease state and the therapies that treat it. Similar to an individual, a detailed and complex profile can be built with a company’s unique requirements in mind.
One such service derivative based on KOL identification and mapping target organizations is a process we term, identifying strategic development partners. Strategic development partner analysis enables companies to grow a product pipeline through identification of key potential partnerships based on multiple search criteria. For example, the process enables companies to identify thousands of organizations conducting early stage clinical work in given disease state area and then identify the top 1% of opportunities based on a company’s unique requirement. This saves thousands of hours and years of wasted effort. If everyone is looking to identify the next generation products, why not use a process to assist with that effort?
We have personally witnessed the rapid adoption of KOL identification and mapping as an integral component for building a product’s awareness with physician audiences. This easily evolves into other areas such as diagnostic tests and training. KOL identification and profiling should not be limited to only physicians; NPs, PAs, other clinicians and even CNOs and hospital CEOs are critical to a products success. Finally, societies, patient advocacy groups, institutions, and corporate partners are all critical elements of a disease state ecosystem. Using the most advance techniques can help companies identify who best to engage with and new opportunities that are critical to a company’s success. The KOL mapping and profiling definition has expanded beyond being simply focused on physicians.
Nearly 20 years ago, Snowfish pioneered one of the first KOL identification and mapping solutions. We have been on the forefront of this stakeholder evolution and have continually improved our approach to empower our clients to take advantage of these important opportunities. For more information please contact us at snowfish.net.
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