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5 Ways to Identify the Top KOLs in Pharma

How to Find the Top KOLs in Pharma

5 Ways to Identify the Top KOLs in Pharma

Developing a strategy to engage with KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) is perhaps one of the most critical steps pharmaceutical brands can take when it comes to building a brand. The involvement of KOLs lends measurable credibility to any new product, which is exceptionally important during a product launch. Therefore, identifying KOLs in pharma is also a critical step in bringing a product to market.

What are KOLs in Pharma?

Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) in pharma are also referred to as ThoughtLeaders or TLs. These are organizations or professionals that are highly respected, widely acclaimed and recognized, and have direct connections with key groups or peers within the medical community.

KOLs often act as influential parties for practitioners, patient advocacy organizations, and even authoritative health establishments. Most importantly, KOLs offer credibility to new pharmaceuticals and offer insightful knowledge to help bring a product from development to the market.


Why KOLs In Pharma are Important? 

KOLs are critical in every stage of bringing a new pharmaceutical product to the public. These professionals have well-earned respect from their peers. In addition, KOLs have the power to influence product perceptions and often have a broad influential reach across the medical community. KOLs influence:

  • Prescribing behaviors
  • Clinicians
  • Institutions
  • Clinical trials

Throughout the life cycle of a product, KOLs who embrace or support a specific product are invaluable partners to the brand. These professionals help generate favorable conditions for the product pre-launch because they have a credible voice. They accelerate the process of launching a new product and often advocate for specific products long after the launch has concluded.

In specific markets, KOLs hold even more value because competition between new drugs is so fierce. For example, regenerative medicine made up 40 percent of new medicines in line to be approved by the FDA in 2016. New drugs that gained stability in the market beyond that point no doubt benefited from KOL support.


How to Identify Top KOLs in Pharma:

1. Pay Attention to Word of Mouth

KOLs continually interact with peers, patients, and organizations. Therefore, word of mouth can be a valuable way to identify a KOL relevant to a specific niche in the market. From press releases to television media, keep an eye on who is being mentioned and talked about the most. If certain names come up in conversation a great deal, this can be a significant indication that the individual has a role of influence in certain communities.

2. Examine Social Media Data

Digital media platforms offer a wealth of insight into potential KOLs in pharma. Social media platforms like LinkedIn, YouTube, and even Twitter yield insight into the quantitative reach of a specific professional. Pay specific attention to things like the resonance of specific posts and the reach of their presentations. Certain platforms yield different levels of insight. For example, LinkedIn is a career-oriented social media network. Therefore, the platform can be used to garner information about aspects of a potential KOL, such as:
  • Past and current affiliations with important organizations
  • The breadth of a professional’s network of connections and colleagues
  • Specific areas of interest in the medical field
In addition, LinkedIn allows guest posts from credible individuals in the medical community. This can offer a snapshot of who are the most active, influential voices in the field.

3. Assess the Sphere of Influence

The sphere of influence assessment is taking a look at how far the affiliation boundaries reach with any specific KOL prospect. Look at local influence, regional influence, and national influence to determine how far a prospect’s influence may actually reach if they get behind a product.

Some physicians and medical professionals have a more localized sphere of influence that may be reserved to more local or regional entities. However, other professionals may have a more national or global presence that involves affiliations with important entities on a broader scale.

4. Review Medical Literature 

The most influential KOLs are frequently associated with health-related publications. Therefore, identify noteworthy authors, involved researchers, and commenters on publications related to a brand’s target market.

Also, consider professionals that hold leadership roles on related committees. For example, a new drug aimed at cancer may be best supported by a KOL who has a leadership role in the American Society of Clinical Oncology. 

5. Take Advantage of Data-Driven Technology 

Data-driven technology brings a competitive edge to KOL identification in the Market of KOLs. Resources like the MDOutlook Lumineer® platform yield accurate and up-to-date ThoughtLeader insight using data-driven technology. Lumineer® utilizes numerous data sources to identify key influencers in any particular discipline to help companies better understand which ThoughtLeaders are most important at any given time.

Identify KOLs Early by Getting the Conversation Started

Creating a map of KOLs is a challenge in the modern competitive landscape of the pharmaceutical industry. However, the right resources and access to the best insights and meaningful engagement with pertinent ThoughtLeaders are only a few steps away. Ready to get the conversation started about how MDOutlook can help with your KOL identification needs? Contact us to learn more