For many pharmaceutical and medical device teams, KOL selection can go one of two ways: defaulting to the list of KOLs they always use or outsourcing the work to a third party. Problem is, there are drawbacks to both approaches. Going back to the same people over and over again lets you talk to the experts you know best – but they might not be the best people to provide insight on every topic or therapeutic area. And hiring a third party can be time-consuming and expensive.
A more effective insight-gathering approach – one that eliminates potential gaps in the process and ensures the best possible outcome – begins before your team asks a single question of any KOL. Selecting who you’ll talk to is the first opportunity to avoid a costly insight gap and align with market needs, optimize development as well as launch and market success, and drive revenue growth.
While tried-and-true relationships with prominent experts should be nurtured, it’s also important to seek out and develop new connections with rising stars or opinion leaders that hold influence in other spheres. This is the only way to ensure that your team is getting maximum value from the time and effort invested in gathering insight.
Align KOL selection with specific goals
Instead of asking which KOLs you want to connect with, take a step back and begin by focusing on what you’re trying to achieve – what therapeutic area you need to engage with, and which experts can provide the kind of insight you need to inform your strategy. Your first instinct may be to engage with frontline HCPs who treat and prescribe, but for some disease areas, nurses, pathologists, or other types of healthcare providers may be the experts who can provide the information you need.
But if you don’t know who these experts are, you can’t effectively engage them, and the information you received may be repetitive, out of date, or simply not relevant to your ultimate objectives. And If you’re relying on selecting from a list of contracted advisors, you may be passing over important sources of new insight and passing up the chance to generate more value for your organization.
Engage new audiences to change the conversation
When it comes to identifying new experts, it can be intimidating to leave reliable sources behind and venture into the unknown – but choosing the right opinion leaders might mean looking outside of the traditional publishing and speaking circuits. While these spheres yield prominent experts, this approach doesn’t guarantee that you’re reaching all of the right people. Emerging experts – whether they are younger professionals or people who are building expertise in new areas – also have strong networks and a high degree of influence among their peers. High levels of engagement and influence in social channels among digital opinion leaders can positively affect insight generation and programmatic success from non-traditional subject matter experts as well.
Turn expert engagement into trackable metrics
Gathering insight from experts is a given at many points in the product development process. But rather than just applying the insights obtained to one purpose, teams can use KOL engagement to demonstrate the value they provide to the larger organization.
For instance, teams that reevaluate their approach to identifying and engaging experts can compare the volume of new insights they receive to the amount of old information that is repeated or recycled. What’s the measurable difference between making decisions based on information you already knew versus decisions based on new perspectives and new influencers who have access to previously untapped networks?
Pharmaceutical and medical device teams can also measure success by tying the results of insight gathering to larger business goals, including trial outcomes, product launches, and competitive advantage.
If you still consider expert selection to be the first step in a successful insight-gathering exercise, think about digging deeper to find the people who are most connected to the information you need to make better decisions. For more information about how to speed the decision-making process without missing important insights, download our new white paper.