Key Opinion Leader – KOL
Key opinion leader (KOL) is a professional who influences his/her peers’ business activities, including but not limited to prescribing behavior. Pharmaceutical companies generally engage key opinion leaders early in the drug development process to provide advocacy and key marketing feedback.Some pharmaceutical companies identify key opinion leaders through direct inquiry of physicians (primary research). Recently, pharmaceutical companies have begun to use social network analysis to uncover thought leaders; because it does not introduce respondent bias, which is commonly found in primary research; it can identify and map out the entire scientific community for a disease state; and it has greater compliance with state and federal regulations; because physician prescribing patterns are not used to create the social network.
Alternatives to segmenting physicians purely on the basis of prescribing do exist, and marketers can call upon strategic partners who specialize in delineating which characteristics of true opinion leadership, a physician does or does not possess. Such analyses can help guide marketers in how to optimize KOL engagements as bona fide advisors to a brand, and can help shape clinical development and clinical data publication plans for instance, ultimately advancing patient care.