Social Media and Key Opinion Leaders

July 25, 2013 · 2 comments

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

Social Media has to be the top buzzword of this still-young millennium, and everyone has been jumping on the bandwagon in the last several years (over one-sixth of planet Earth’s population!). We’re way past the point of the early adopters defining the space, and now almost everyone wants to be part of this wave, so we are all out there blogging and tweeting, and doing whatever else we can to achieve our digital footprint.

But can we use social media to define a thought leader in healthcare?

As you might expect, the answer is both yes and no. Our company, a key opinion leader (KOL) strategy and engagement firm, conducted a study to determine if physicians considered experts in their field actually use social media in any significant ways. We looked at a crowded field—endocrinology—and we divided endocrinology thought leaders in the United States into two camps: well-established, veteran specialists widely-recognized by their peers as leaders in the field and emerging specialists building their careers to the point where others are already recognizing them as up-and-comers in their field.

As expected, the emerging KOLs used social media at twice the level of those established, for the most part older ones, but the surprising result of this study was that this high rate among emerging KOLs was only ... read more »


The Sunshine Act–How Bad Can It Get?

December 6, 2011 · Leave a comment

Industry Insights from Paul Meade, M. Sc, MPH

For every transaction over ten dollars paid to a physician by a pharmaceutical manufacturer, the Physician Payments Sunshine Provision demands disclosure to a database that will be made public in 2013.

Notwithstanding the absurdity of collecting such an enormous amount of information, someone will undoubtedly spend a lot of time sifting through this data to create lists of “worst offenders.” These lists will be publically promulgated with the sole purpose of bestowing shame on these so-called “offenders.”

Of course, these lists may be perceived as tantamount to publishing a list of child molesters moving into a new neighborhood, or those people charged with driving under the influence of alcohol over the weekend listed in the Monday newspaper. Some of the most brilliant and renowned physicians in this country will be brought to shame for consulting with some manufacturers.

So, how bad can it get? Well, let’s imagine the following scenario, which I refer to as Grinding to a Halt. Leaders in the medical community who are respected for their research and experience may become so concerned about being publically exposed for consulting with various manufacturers that they may decide to cease all interactions going forward.

There will be no more advising pharmaceutical companies about the unmet medical needs for new molecules discovered in their research laboratories. There ... read more »


The Sunshine Act: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

October 14, 2011 · Leave a comment

Industry Insights from Paul Meade, M. Sc, MPH

The Sunshine Act is on the horizon, and all we know for certain is that things will be different. Will the changes be good, bad, or ugly for healthcare and the biopharmaceutical industry? Well, a bit of all three. But it is a bit like the Y2K scare, or the coming of the end of the world in December 2012 predicted by the Mayans—people in healthcare and biopharma are on alert, and no one really knows for certain how this will all play out.

Let’s start with the good, since there will be greater transparency in the interactions between manufacturers and physicians. The intended outcomes will be greater standards of remuneration for services rendered by healthcare professionals to various manufacturers, some defined threshold limit of activities (type and quantity) deemed permissible by institutions for their affiliated physicians, and a greater sense of awareness of the interactions between healthcare professionals and manufacturers, presumably by a concerned public.

With regard to the first outcome, it is hoped that some kind of industry standard for Fair Market Value will be established for the activities physicians are often engaged in when dealing with manufacturers. It will likely serve to “level the playing field,” so some manufacturers will not pay excessively for a given activity, such as consultative services. As ... read more »


Clinical Trials—The New Way Forward

July 14, 2011 · Leave a comment

Industry Insights from Paul Meade, M. Sc, MPH

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal announced that Pfizer is conducting a clinical trial in which patients are able to use their computers and smartphones to enter information about the study, rather then spend time visiting a clinic. It was only a matter of time before clinical trials entered the social media era!

Actually, this approach makes a lot of sense, not just for the investigator, but especially for the patient. The patient is recruited over the Internet, enrolls electronically, receives laboratory tests in the mail along with test drugs, and tracks responses through an application on his or her computer or smartphone. Having participated in a clinical study before where I had to repeatedly return to the clinic, keep a paper log of reactions, bring in my responses to the study site, and answer weekly phone calls from the study nurse, I can say wholeheartedly that it was a big inconvenience. And all of that grief for the incredible reimbursement of $60!

We live in an age of instant and ubiquitous communication. I am never very far or long away from a business-related e-mail, even when I am on vacation. In fact, this instant communication has really changed the face of vacations for most people, but that is another subject ... read more »


Should Doctors Be Paid By Drug Companies?

March 30, 2011 · 1 comment

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

Should doctors be paid by drug companies? Well, I guess that depends on the reason for the payment. If a physician, known for her expertise in a given area, is asked by a pharmaceutical company to determine if a newly discovered drug compound would meet a medical need in healthcare, then the answer is clearly yes. Likewise, if a patient consults with an orthopedic specialist on whether to undergo a surgical procedure to repair a damaged cartilage, that consultation is paid for by the person’s health insurance.

In any profession based on an individual’s expertise—think lawyers, management consultants–a person’s informed opinion usually commands some form of payment.  Also, the level of expertise generally dictates the level of compensation. So why is it that when a physician gives advice to a patient, or even a group of patients during a patient advocacy lecture, we all feel compensation is fair and just, but when that same person provides his or her expertise to a pharmaceutical company seeking to make a decision on whether to continue the development of a new drug, many people cry foul? Should pharmaceutical companies be forbidden to seek out and pay for the expertise and knowledge of physicians?

In order for a new medicine to become available to the general population, regulatory authorities demand ... read more »


Thought Leader Select Begins Oncology Thought Leader Assessment in Canada

March 16, 2011 · Leave a comment

March 16, 2011 (CHAPEL HILL, NC)—Research Triangle, NC research and consulting firm Thought Leader Select has initiated a new assessment of medical experts in the field of oncology for the biopharmaceutical industry.

A Canadian subsidiary of a top 10 global biopharmaceutical company has hired the firm to study the skills and experiences of 40 key opinion leaders in the treatment of lung cancer.  Thought Leader Select is offering the client company an objective, systematic foundational approach to selecting physicians and other health care professionals within the Canadian care environment to assist the company during its stretch-run of activities in support of the new cancer treatment’s development.

The selected key opinion leaders in Canadian oncology circles will provide a variety of services to the company, including advisory board participation, conducting clinical studies, and offering one-on-one consultations with the company’s scientific and medical teams.  Thought Leader Select’s methodology, while compliant with Office of Inspector General guidelines in the United States, is also compliant with Canadian regulations such as the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA).

“We have been privileged to work with this company on multiple projects in several therapeutic areas, to ensure that its new product teams are positioned for success by working with the right thought leaders for the right reasons,” stated Neil Mellor, Thought Leader Select’s business development consultant.  “This ... read more »


Thought Leader Select Launches Key Opinion Leader Assessment in Mexico

July 23, 2010 · Leave a comment

Press Release Out Today from the Offices of Thought Leader Select

July 22, 2010 (CHAPEL HILL, NC)—Thought Leader Select, a North Carolina company dedicated to delivering sophisticated key opinion leader research solutions to the biopharmaceutical industry, announces new key opinion leader research for an established Mexican pharmaceutical company.

The pharmaceutical company, a long-time presence in the Mexican market, has contracted the firm for key opinion leader identification, profiling, and engagement strategies in support of a novel prescription medication for the relief of muscle and joint pain.  Thought Leader Select will assess the skills and experiences of a host of rheumatologists and orthopedic surgeons throughout Mexico.  The pharmaceutical firm will engage the identified medical experts for one-on-one consultations, advisory boards, and speaking engagements, as well as potential clinical studies for new treatment indications for the drug.

In addition to profiles and activity plans for the leading Mexican physicians, Thought Leader Select will also deliver access to its exclusive web-based expert tool for optimizing physician teams for a variety of development activities.

“Our customized services, well-known throughout the United States and Canada,  work for companies operating domestically in Mexico as well as multi-nationals doing business throughout Latin America,” stated Dr. Daniel Bagi, head of Latin American business development at Thought Leader Select, from his office in Mexico City. “The launch of this project establishes Thought Leader ... read more »


When Real-Time Is a Waste of Time (and Money)!

July 1, 2010 · Leave a comment

Industry Insights from Paul Meade, M. Sc, MPH

In this Age of Information, many people believe that having up-to-date information at their fingertips is beneficial to managing their businesses. This can’t be truer if you have to make up-to-date decisions several times a day. But sometimes having real-time updates is like putting high-octane gasoline in your car when all you really need is regular. Unless you need real-time information to make daily or even hourly decisions, one should ask, what value is there to having such instant information? Some companies offer real-time information on thought leader profiles. Why? Are decisions to engage in thought leader consultations really that time-critical? Does any pharmaceutical executive need instant updates on key opinion leaders to make critical decisions to the overall strategy of a product’s annual plan? Does anyone have that much flexibility in a product marketing plan to make significant changes on a daily basis?

To be sure, busy thought leaders are actively conducting research, publishing articles, and speaking at medical meetings. In fact, these are ongoing activities for many of the top thought leaders in any therapeutic area. But clinical studies are conducted over months and years, not hours or days. Scientific articles can take over a year to get published in leading journals once the research has been completed. Significant medical conferences are ... read more »