KOL Management

KOL Management

KOL Management is a broad term that, in our minds, refers to the complete life cycle of identifying, mapping, segmenting, planning, engaging, and interacting with KOLs. From beginning to end.

In reality, KOL Management is a never-ending cycle — an ongoing process that requires constant fine-tuning and midcourse corrections to ensure you are working with the right people, in the right way, at the right time, through the right initiatives.

In this short paper we address the key questions to ask at every step of the cycle to ensure that your KOL management is focussed, compliant, mutually beneficial, and of true scientific value.

Ensuring these important questions are answered within your organisation can also help you dramatically improve your approach to KOL management from a strategic and tactical perspective.

There are no answers here, just questions (but for the answers, simply contact us because that’s what we excel at!).

Identification

Contribution to KOL Management

Ensuring you are working with the most appropriate KOLs in line with your strategic and tactical needs to maximise the opportunities for your medicines is the first step of effective KOL Management. Because the people you work with today can impact your success well beyond tomorrow.

Identification involves more than just finding the right people to work with. It also involves keeping the “KOL pipeline” refreshed and up-to-date to avoid repeatedly using the same few KOLs for all your activities, because effective KOL management requires a good mix of KOLs in your portfolio.

The “right experts” who are most relevant to your work are governed by your strategic and tactical needs, not simply by who is the most prominent/influential/renowned KOL in your therapy area.

Your strategic KOL needs should reflect the unique clinical characteristics of your brand and the people you need to communicate that story to. Your tactical KOL needs should reflect the experts you need to engage with in order to help lead and implement the unique tactics you have developed.

Questions To Answer

Mapping

Contribution to KOL management

Effective and comprehensive KOL management cannot look at an individual KOL in isolation of their peers and without consideration of the wider context — your KOL management strategy must consider not just each individual KOL, but your entire KOL portfolio.

And the same applies to identify such experts, hence the need for effective “KOL Mapping” which enables you to look at the KOL landscape and map experts in context.

In many situations “KOL management” also includes the engagement and management of other stakeholders such as patient groups, advocacy organisations, professional organisations, funding bodies, etc. This wider holistic “stakeholder management” approach requires wider mapping of the KOL landscape to include additional stakeholders.

Questions to answer

Profiling & Understanding

Contribution to KOL management

The link between understanding your KOLs and effective KOL management is straightforward — the better you understand and know a KOL, the better you can engage with them in the best and most transparent way possible!

The public profile of an expert can help guide decisions on how best to engage with that expert e.g. the frequency of speaking, involvement with competitor companies on other initiatives, frequency of publications, involvement with guideline committees and other regulatory authorities, involvement in providing evidence to FDA panels, etc.

But fully understanding the KOL goes just beyond simple profiling. There are many different components to understanding KOLs – the drivers behind KOL behaviour, how they want to work with you, their scientific focus and areas of interest going forwards, and their collaboration preferences.

The more you know about all these different components, each KOLs work, competitor activities, speaking credentials, experience, wishes collaboration preferences, etc., the better your KOL management strategy.

Questions to answer

Mindset Benchmarking

Contribution to KOL management

Going beyond a “regular profile” to understand and benchmark KOLs’ attitudes, beliefs, and sentiments towards drugs, data, and disease issues can significantly help the development of your KOL management strategy and plans.

Questions to answer

Segmentation

Contribution to KOL management

Segmenting experts is an important step in arriving at an effective KOL management programme.

Accurate scientific segmentation allows us to summarise experts into buckets based on their position, profile characteristics, collaboration preferences, mindset, etc.

Using this, you can then create effective KOL management and engagement plans for each segment, driven by your broader scientific communication objectives.

At the very least, different “segments” should be engaged with different strategies and tactics tailored to their particular characteristics.

Use all available data (including internal knowledge and input from experts themselves) to segment the experts based on a variety of parameters e.g. where they stand on specific issues, their attitude/perception with regards to certain products, treatment regimes, companies, etc.

Questions to answer

Engagement Planning

Contribution to KOL management

Engagement planning involves taking all the information, insights, knowledge you have on KOLs (gained from both internal and external sources) and arriving at engagement/touch-point plans for each KOL based on strategy, tactics, benchmarking, segmentation, influence, available internal resources, and a whole host of other factors.

This is the heart of effective KOL management; it's what drives the overall way forward.

Questions to answer

Engagement tracking

Contribution to KOL management

As mentioned earlier, KOL management is a never-ending cycle where each step feeds into the next, with constant refinements and midcourse corrections to ensure powerful engagement.

A key component of the process is to effectively track, audit, and report on your engagements. Without this data, a KOL management program cannot be planned, tracked, or analysed effectively.

Questions to answer

Internal processes

Contribution to KOL management

Designing, developing, and implementing the necessary protocols, plans, and assets for building, implementing and monitoring engagement plans are critical components of effective KOL management.

That’s because engagement planning strategies and tactics are of limited use without the relevant tools, protocols, and assets to help create, track, implement, and audit those plans.

It’s vital to get these processes and templates established and confirmed right from the start, including all the success metrics, and the auditing/reporting process to help measure and improve each round of the KOL management cycle.

Questions to answer

Measuring & Monitoring Success

Contribution to KOL management

A good KOL management programme should not be fixed and unmovable — it should be adaptable and flexible to changing conditions.

And measuring and monitoring the impact and success is the final important step of any ongoing, continuous KOL management program.

A positive side effect of good KOL management strategy and planning should be that you “move the needle” amongst experts.

Measuring and monitoring all these different parameters and components, e.g. measuring the impact of your work on external KOLs, measuring the efficiency of your work internally, assessing the success of your strategy and tactics should be an integral part in any KOL management program

Questions to answer

Summary

Effective KOL engagement planning and implementation can involve many different steps as outlined above — identifying the right experts, establishing benchmarks, debating how to engage each expert, arriving at plans, overseeing the implementation of those plans, making mid-course corrections, and measuring the impact.

Judicious planning on your part, by addressing the questions above, can help you make KOL management decisions quickly that rely less on faith and luck, and more on instinct and facts.

System Analytic provides a range of services and tools to help support the entire engagement cycle and maximise the investment you make in KOL interactions and activities. Supporting KOL management and engagement is what we’ve been doing for nearly a decade now.