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January 10, 2022

VEP Spotlight Series: HCA Group

Objectivity in KOL selection and a flexible engagement forum multiply benefits for life science teams.
KOL identification

The past 18 to 24 months confirmed that traditional eight-hour virtual advisory boards no longer hold the distinction of being the only – or best – way to gather life science insights. Global teams must acquire and act upon global health data and clinical insights in near real-time, a need we saw play out during a global health crisis. Life science organizations have also learned that KOL diversity is not simply a box to check but an opportunity to objectively engage the right KOLs for every task, including up-and-comers with new perspectives.

Since late 2011, HealthCare Alliance Group, a full-service medical communications company, has been using influence analytics – data-based KOL identification capabilities – to ensure their clients select the right KOLs for the right projects in a highly objective manner. Originally a product of Voxx Analytics, this capability is now the core of Within3 Select following Within3’s acquisition of Voxx.

HCA Group works with more than a dozen pharmaceutical companies, large and small, for programs ranging from phase II clinical trials to post-market engagements, including advisory boards and patient programs for medical affairs and commercial teams. The HCA team has since added Within3 Connect to seamlessly engage experts, gather and disseminate data in a compliant environment, share information freely, and provide valuable insights immediately.

An objective view of KOL data

“What pharma commercial teams don’t do particularly well is leverage data to make better decisions, particularly decisions related to KOL evaluation, invitation, and selection,” says HCA Group Vice President of Strategy and Business Development Larry Hamacher. “They often have an idea of data needed for KOL identification, and understand it requires investment for capture and analysis. Within3 Select delivers that data in real-time.

When it comes to traditional methods of KOL identification, Hamacher points out that there is a tremendous amount of subjectivity involved. “This technology and team deliver data for KOL identification to objectively inform selection better than anyone,” he says. “If we need a deep dive on KOLs across the country, we get that. If we need that specifically in the southeastern United States, we get that. If we need a KOL in another practice area within the same institution for which we have an existing relationship, we can get that.”

The benefit to HCA Group clients is receiving the latest data in customizable ways, accounting for geographic necessity and diversity – or whatever meets the client’s strategic imperatives.

“With Within3 Select, we ensure diversity in our KOL groups, including geographic representation for national meetings or initiatives,” says Hamacher. “We can also identify and engage up-and-comers or experts with deep knowledge that might otherwise hide in the shadows or background without an objective, data-driven, fast way to find them.”

Effectively gathering real-time global input

Hamacher says that there is a need for virtual environments that lend themselves to thoughtful, high-quality discussions “We most want to create a forum that allows people to ask questions, disagree with viewpoints, and share why. They are much more likely to do this in a Within3 Connect session than in a live session, virtual or in-person.” Hamacher estimates that clients’ ability to gather relevant information is tripled on the Connect asynchronous platform.

“Eight-hour virtual advisory boards are nearly impossible to execute effectively,” he adds. “A two- to three-hour session that prioritizes objectives followed by a two- to three-week asynchronous meeting is much, much more effective. We can also feed more real-time data, input, and insights into med affairs or commercial strategies.”

Hamacher believes that the push for a COVID-19 vaccine heightened awareness of the need for effective virtual tools that can speed product development. “Ask companies like Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson. Science is happening in real-time.” By way of example, Hamacher describes a client program that unfolded on the Connect asynchronous platform as events were developing. “We conducted a live virtual advisory board starting April 2021, with continuous input gathering and added follow-on virtual meetings in May and June, continually updating questions and answers. This enabled all to stay abreast of science as it is occurring, with real-time input, generated by the right KOLs contributing in their own place and time. It really is priceless.”

The value of long-term relationships

Hamacher says that KOLs have multiple motivations for participating in advisory boards and other peer-to-peer exchange opportunities. “For most, the power and value lies in information, dialogue with colleagues, and sharing details and data unique to their science and experience.”

From a client standpoint, there is added value in being able to meet multiple times a year, with global groups, for the same investment as a single in-person meeting. “The frequency and consistency of engagement over time in a virtual environment like Within3 builds stronger long-term KOL relationships, increases insights generated, and delivers meaningful, measurable improvements in cost and time efficiency.”

Combining the objective influence analytics with efficient over-time engagement multiplies the value of each engagement for life science teams. “Ultimately, with Select data, we are one thousand times more efficient and cost-effective in our clients’ KOL engagement programs,” says Hamacher. “When the right people can engage with flexibility through Connect, the result is high-value, actionable insights. Putting those together generates powerful, cost-effective outcomes for our clients’ med affairs and commercial teams’ advisory boards.”

If you would like to know more about how the Virtual Engagement Partner certification program can help you add value to your clients’ product development and commercialization activities, contact Within3 channel partner director Angela Labrozzi.

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