The world is becoming more connected and consumers now have virtually limitless access to medical information. Social platforms have opened up a form of peer to peer communication that until relatively recently, was reserved only for health care professionals. The empowered patient provides a unique opportunity for forward thinking life science companies. Patients are now being called upon to not only communicate with others but to in fact advise therapy manufacturers on what they need. By analyzing the patient and the resources and feedback the patient provides throughout their entire healthcare journey, life science companies have the ability to improve outcomes and increase overall patient satisfaction. Should the industry be engaging patient key opinion leaders? 

Patient KOLs: Leveraging the power of social media with other forms of data

Everyone is familiar with the idea of a key opinion leader (KOL) among medical professionals. When Snowfish started out almost 20 years ago identifying experts through objective means was a unique thought. KOLs were identified through the salesforce and medical science liaison (MSL) teams. Today the idea of conducting professional KOL identification and mapping has become standard practice. 

Within the patient community there are leaders similar to medical professional KOLs. Patient key opinion leaders (PKOL) often play an integral role with advocacy organizations, sit on patient focused advisory boards, and speak before leading forums. PKOLs are often active on social media, having thousands of followers, thereby helping guide opinion. A PKOL can be the canary in the coal mine when things need to be rethought or adjusted.

The first place many patients start their healthcare journey is on-line. Understanding symptoms and potential causes is often the starting point. Patients are seeking answers and are looking for advice from people with their condition. PKOLs play an important role. 

PKOLs are not the only ones to influence patients online. Other individuals, such as caregivers, healthcare providers
and researchers, as well as organizations, such as advocacy groups, hospitals, research institutes, often have large patient followings on social media platforms.

Snowfish has been involved in several projects focused on diseases where people receive a diagnosis but require more support to aid in their recovery. For example, treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often involves a pharmaceutical component plus group therapy. Advocacy organizations and support groups empower the patient and can vastly improves their overall experience. Industry may also leverage relationships with such groups to disseminate information to their established constituents.

Meeting their obligation to patients no longer means that life science companies can merely provide an appropriate treatment and call it a day. There is a need to actively engage them. Identifying and developing PKOLs is a way to ensure that patients may learn from their peers and industry is enriched with their valuable insight.

Snowfish has developed a process to empower the life science professional by including PKOLs as part your overall advocacy outreach efforts. PKOLs can also be linked with other entities such as professional and advocacy organizations and the traditional KOLs. Companies now have the ability to be part of the discussion with leading PKOLs. To learn more. please reach out to us at info@snowfish.


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