Medical Affairs: Find the Missing KOLs

By Brian Castle

Thought Leader Select is a company dedicated to one purpose:  helping companies in the life sciences to optimize their relationships with key opinion leaders in medicine.

Biopharmaceutical, device, and diagnostics companies work with thought leaders in particular therapeutic areas and diseases as they develop and manufacture new treatment solutions for patients.  It’s well-known that these companies recruit doctors to share their success stories for product marketing purposes, but in the case of product development and refinement, physicians play a critical role, through their collaborations with medical science liaisons and other medical affairs professionals, to push forward medical science in diagnosing and developing the most effective medical and surgical treatments for numerous conditions.

In the last several years, medical science liaisons and their medical affairs colleagues have become the central relationship managers for companies with regard to the leaders in the medical community, the physicians, scientists, and allied health professionals whose work impacts the treatment behavior of thousands of colleagues by virtue of leadership in research, publishing, speaking, development of treatment guidelines and other areas of critical work. With each passing year, it becomes more and more difficult for companies to keep up with the thought leaders in a particular area; this is especially true in very large therapeutic areas like cardiovascular and metabolic conditions and infectious diseases.

How do companies identify the right thought leaders to work with, depending upon the medical need?  Many look to their field medical forces, the medical science liaisons, to nominate physicians based on their knowledge of local geographies. While this is generally a good method, since medical liaisons themselves are often MDs and PharmDs hired directly from the medical community, relying on this method alone can leave gaps in knowledge of the full extent of the medical community’s expertise. These gaps occur primarily because of the human limitations of the field medical people – namely that no one person can know every physician of note, the amount of bias we all have in measuring others without a system, and lack of access because top thought leaders are quite busy.

With field nomination of key opinion leaders a good – but not thorough – solution to compiling rosters of KOL collaborators, what is the answer for companies looking to be comprehensive in their approach to the medical community?  Thought Leader Select has the solution – a hybrid approach of two of our services, Thought Leader Verify and Thought Leader ID.  With Verify, Thought Leader Select collaborates with internal stakeholders to develop an objective, ethical, and compliant system for evaluating the skills and experience of field-nominated key opinion leaders. The established criteria meet business development objectives as well as compliance requirements.

With ID, Thought Leader Select runs a comparative study in the particular therapeutic area, without regard to the field nominations.  When this occurs, companies can see the overlap of KOLs as well as the KOLs missed by the aggregate number of relationships that field medical has with the medical community in that particular treatment area. Typically, client leadership sees a 40-60 percent overlap between the two methodologies, revealing a significant number of “missing” KOLs.

As with Verify, Thought Leader Select customizes its approach with ID in a way that meets the business objectives of internal stakeholders, while achieving compliance with the strictest of compliance requirements.

Are your ways of finding KOLs “good enough,” or do you want to leave no stones unturned in developing your business to impact the most patients for good?  Contact Thought Leader Select today to find out how we can build the most comprehensive plan to ensure you’re working with the right KOLs, for the right reasons, every time.

 Brian Castle is Director of Global Marketing and Client Relations at Thought Leader Select.


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