Can Analyzing Social Networks Really Find Thought Leaders?

February 28, 2012 · Leave a comment

Industry Insights from Paul Meade, M. Sc., MPH

There has been quite a lot of noise lately regarding the use of social network techniques to find key opinion leaders in the medical profession. Whether it’s through what some call social network analysis or the creation of health care professional-only social networks, proponents of these methods like to think that they are reinventing thought leadership and its metrics.

In fact, some advocates even suggest they can find more key opinion leaders in the medical field than by using other tried and tested, and sometimes validated approaches. Can this be true? Well, it depends on how these companies, and better yet, how the end users of their services, define thought leaders or key opinion leaders (KOLs).

There are those with backgrounds in information technology, as well as social sciences such as sociology and psychology, and other areas outside healthcare who are trying to redefine thought leadership in medicine to fit the template of the products they are selling.  For example, some of them have taken concepts of social interactions and applied them to finding those medical experts that either publish together or even present at similar conferences. But just because someone writes a paper with someone else doesn’t mean they are both KOLs. In fact, the contrary is often the case.

So let’s back up and ... read more »


Beyond the Specialist: The Growing Importance of Thought Leadership in Primary Care, Allied Health Professions

January 12, 2012 · Leave a comment

By Brian Castle and Kristen Smithwick

When most people think about thought leaders in medicine, specialists in oncology, neurology, rheumatology and other therapeutic areas immediately come to mind.  However, with the proliferation of illnesses and conditions ranging from diabetes and obesity to asthma, gastrointestinal diseases and psychiatric disorders, key opinion leaders in primary care and allied health professions are more important than ever.

In addition to the growing incidence of several “lifestyle” conditions, the structure of U.S. healthcare dictates that people suffering in these areas see their primary care physicians (PCPs), nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and pharmacists with much greater frequency than their specialists.  As a result, more PCPs and allied health professionals are joining their specialist colleagues in all of the critical areas that define thought leadership, including publishing, basic and clinical research, clinical practice, speaking, and advocacy involvement.

Thought Leader Select has conducted multiple assessments of thought leader populations in a variety of therapeutic areas, with particular attention to the impact of PCPs, also known as general practitioners, in areas of treatment as diverse as diabetes, allergies, infectious disease, and gastrointestinal conditions.  Primary care physicians, along with their nurse practitioner (NP), physician assistant (PA), and registered nurse colleagues, consistently distinguish themselves in many of the traditional areas of thought leadership once assumed to be the domain of specialists and sub-specialists.

Leaders ... read more »


The Difference-Makers at Thought Leader Select

March 11, 2011 · Leave a comment

Service Spotlight with Brian Castle

People ask me almost every day what makes Thought Leader Select different from the three dozen or so competitors we have in the thought leader services micro-niche within healthcare and biopharmaceuticals. Obviously, that’s a dangerous question to ask a marketing person! After all, I spend days on end composing multiple arguments to make the very case that we are uniquely positioned to help client companies in ways that many of our competitors haven’t even conceived.

What makes my job easy is that we are different. Very different, in fact. I know that lots of companies claim that their people are the difference, but that concept is especially true at Thought Leader Select. In addition to having a front-end consulting team with over 50 years of healthcare and biopharmaceutical industry experience, we have a back-end research team with over 50 years of clinical and research work in the field of medicine.   Led by Lisa Smith, Clarissa Noureddine, Rhonda Napier, Lynda Scott, and Cammie Brannan, our research team delivers research assessments on the skills and experiences of thought leaders around the world.

Our team complements each assessment with technology tools (such our proprietary database, Thought Leader Index) and advisory capabilities that add an element to our work that other firms ... read more »


Reflections on SMi Knowledge Leader Conference

November 4, 2010 · Leave a comment

Neil Mellor, business development consultant at Thought Leader Select, and Paul Meade, the company’s president and founder, attended SMi’s KOL: Knowledge Leader Partnerships conference on September 29 and 30 in London.  Neil sat down with the Thought Leader Select Blog to discuss his takeaways from the conference.

TLS Blog:  Neil, how was the conference in London?

Neil Mellor:  I found it quite interesting, and so did Paul—since we’ve grown the company over the last five years to include multiple European and global thought leader assessments, we thought it made sense to get a real sense of the industry’s thinking about what we do on the European continent.

TLS Blog:  What were some of the main points of discussion?

Neil Mellor:  Right now, there’s a pretty hot debate going on about the roles that health care professionals play in the development and launch of new medicines.  This conference even included a robust discussion on what to call them—it seems the European marketplace is evolving away from the term “key opinion leader,” with companies choosing instead to rely on what they call “external experts,” “opinion leaders,” or “thought leaders.”  It made us feel even better about the name of our company, that’s for sure!

TLS Blog:  Would you say that there’s a migration going on in the perception of the HCPs ... read more »


The Illuminating Value of a Key Opinion Leader Research Assessment: Validation versus Identification

June 29, 2010 · Leave a comment

During a recent client feedback survey interview, a pharmaceutical company executive defined Thought Leader Select’s value in this manner:  “We always think we know our physician key opinion leaders in a given therapeutic area.  Your company provides immense value not only in validating our KOLs with thorough, objective information on their skills and experiences, but also in pointing out to us that there are other experts out there whom we should be engaging in the development of new medicines.”

A case in point is Thought Leader Select’s recent analysis of a pool of global key opinion leaders in the therapeutic area of infectious diseases for a large, multi-national pharmaceutical company. For the study, the company supplied the names of 32 medical experts they had engaged in Europe and North America and asked Thought Leader Select to profile and compare the skills and experiences of these physicians with those of 23 new thought leaders identified and profiled by Thought Leader Select in those same geographic regions.

The results of the study provided the client company with a better understanding of the skills and experiences of not only their current pool of medical advisors, but those of an expanded pool as well.  In the analysis of the new, larger pool of physicians in the areas of development most important to the client, Thought Leader ... read more »