How Are You Planning Your KOL Management ?
July 28, 2016
In the life sciences field, a Key Opinion Leader’s (KOL) endorsement or validation of your product can make the difference between success and failure.
Consequently, a solid KOL management and development strategy will be vital to how you, your product and your organisation is perceived in the market.
As the regulatory environment continues to evolve KOL management is becoming ever more complex and strategic, with new Key Opinion Leaders taking their place in different therapy areas: in addition to the pharmaceutical industry competing heavily for approval and guidance to gain market access.
A successful KOL manager will now need to not only reach out to traditional KOLs e.g. physicians and researchers, but also to the new stakeholders such as payers and patient groups, health economists and those in the political sphere who will be shaping the direction of market access for many years to come.
From our own perspective working with KOL managers across the globe we have identified what the great account mangers do and here are their six key areas of focus that are well worth considering.
6 Steps for Effective KOL Management
1. Expand your reach and consider the future. Think big: have you considered every possible KOL in your plan? Map current potential KOL’s, remembering to forecast into the future with some bright potential—don’t just consider the big names of today, but start making relationships with the KOL’s of tomorrow. Logical yes and yet some people are slow to plan ahead in this way.
Think big picture, long-term, and don’t limit yourself to top physicians but consider the entire health system and its legislators and influencers when mapping your KOL potential.
2. Once you’ve mapped all the potential, narrow it back down and target the KOL’s that best suit the product/target audience/region. Don’t forget to plan for the entire life cycle of the product; while some of your KOL’s will inevitably come and go over time, you should factor in a few key figures that will be involved over the long-term.
Utilise technology to map and track your KOL management process from inception right through the programme; a CMS and virtual advisory boards can be very helpful tools.
3. Consider what makes the relationship mutually beneficial other than financial incentives. Key Opinion Leaders want to be heard, so always acknowledge the on-the-ground feedback of the top physicians, patient groups, experts, and payers that you have recommending your product.
Consider what the KOL’s needs are not only today, but what they might be in the future, and come up with an arrangement that is mutually beneficial in the long-term.
4. Make your KOL remuneration fair and cognisant of the trend towards transparency. Regulation is increasingly requiring disclosure of payments to KOL’s, which may put downward pressure on payment—which may in turn make being a KOL a less attractive proposition to the very experts you desire.
Find a balance between paying KOL’s fairly for their time and expertise, while also being transparent (even if your operations aren’t yet under disclosure regulation, they almost certainly soon will be).
5. Ensure that your KOL management system is bringing in results. Instil some performance indicators into the system, by measuring things like how long it takes to attract a KOL, how often the KOL meets/interacts with your company, how satisfied the KOL is with the arrangement, and KOL response time.
6. Make sure that your KOL management system is company-wide to cut out time and money-wasting inefficiencies (for example when the marketing department reaches out to a KOL that has already begun a relationship with the medical education department).
All departments from sales, marketing, clinical research and clinical affairs must have access to the same KOL management program to get the most out of each KOL and create a cohesive company-KOL relationship rather than one of confusion.
A great KOL management strategy will cover who to target, how to reach out, how to measure success, and how to ensure the relationship is mutually beneficial over the lifecycle of the product. An effective KOL management programme, done right, is an immensely powerful tool to ensure the success of your product, your company, and your career.