Pharma and The Rise of Digital KOLs
Pharma companies are not at all new to the term ‘KOLs’ (Key Opinion Leaders). KOLs are the expert doctors who are regularly sought out by their colleagues for opinions or advice. They often speak at regional, national or international conferences and publish articles in major journals on regular basis. They also consider themselves early adopters of new treatments or procedures and help establish protocols for patient care. The majority (above 70%) of the top KOLs are now on digital platforms and are connected to thousands of other doctors. But, Pharma companies still do not have a strategy to engage with these KOLs for this new channel of digital platforms.
Though healthcare delivery is often evidence based, changing treatment practices is not at all simple. The KOLs are often found to lead the change in medical treatments and new drug adoptions. Any Pharma product will not get much-needed boost unless they address the concerns raised by KOLs in the therapy area. In addition, KOLs provide insights and understanding regarding treatments and also suggest support programs that most benefit patients. The interactions with KOLs are thus highly critical in increasing the adoption and sales of any Pharma product. The KOLs who are active on digital professional platforms now wield more influence over other doctors in the therapy area as they are accessible, proactive and willing to connect and share with their peers.
Who Are Digital KOLs?
Digital KOLs demonstrate distinct characteristics. No doubt these are experts in their respective field of practice and gathered valuable experience. However, to become a digital KOL only these aspects are not enough. The digital KOLs demonstrate:
Digital KOLs like any KOLs highlights the uniqueness of their expertise in a specific field. Digital KOLs should have an online presence in reviewing products, research, ready to give interviews and speeches, contribute to articles (co-authoring). A digital KOL must be willing to interact with other doctors with digital tools and communications channels. In addition, they must be recommended by other professionals in the same field to guarantee the reliability of his/her words.
Digital KOLs have a knack to handle the web perfectly, that is, by using professional social media, blogging, posting links to their articles about discussions, blogs, or social networks, by posting information which is relevant for their field. Digital KOLs’ control of the Internet is very important as it drives the engagement on the web.
There is no direct measure of the influence of the KOL. It is typically reflected by KOLs’ connections and especially by relevant networkers on the professional platforms. Digital KOLs’ online connections also guarantee their credibility and consequently their influence on the web. Digital KOLs must be proactive to show and keep their Web influence by responding to comments or questions by participating in social networking, sharing opinions, offering advice, providing information and ideas, asking interesting questions and contributing to the following discussion. The more the digital KOLs are active on the web, the greater the influence they develop. Pharma must make efforts to encourage the KOLs to remain active on digital channels.
How Should Pharma Collaborate With Digital KOLs?
Not all KOLs are digital KOLs. Similarly, not all KOLs active on the digital channels are
- Engage with KOLs for digital presence: Develop a strategy to engage with the KOLs who are already visible on digital channels. These KOLs are quite often proactive and engage with their peers on the variety of topics related to their therapy area. Engage with these KOLs with your proprietary insights. Encourage them to ask the questions, develop a conversation on the professional platform such as Docplexus.
- Understand and fulfill digital needs of the KOLs: Reputation is the new currency in this social media-dominated world. Provide support to your existing KOLs in building their online presence. Encourage them for their participation on independent platforms in the form of panel discussions, commentary on new treatment modalities or interviews on the area of their expertise. Independent platform allows better delivery and ensures more trust on your KOLs than the sponsored activities. Moreover, the focus remains on the therapy area and your marketing goals can easily be achieved.
- Build a long term KOL Engagement Strategy: Like your offline KOL management, digital KOLs also needs to be looked after. Social media is very fast and highly responsive medium that requires timely attention. It is important not limit your KOL engagement activities to one- off activity. On time activities often restrict the valuable interactions between your KOLs and other doctors. A true marketer understands the value of continuous interactions as they have known to deliver ultimate marketing goal through building relationships. Pharma marketers must plan and schedule activities with KOLs on various topics for at least 6 to 12 months to get desirable outcomes. Not only it helps Pharma but it also helps KOLs when they are provided opportunities to engage with new proprietary insights. The long-term strategy ensures that all the relevant questions around your product or marketing message are addressed effectively.
How can Docplexus help?
Docplexus is India’s largest and fastest growing doctors’ professional platform of over 2,00,000 doctors. We are the biggest nationwide networking preference for KOLs to connect with their peers in over 89 different specialties. We have successfully engaged with top Indian and international KOLs and helped them to achieve their digital networking goals.
Docplexus is also a very highly focused platform ensures that only clinically relevant discussions take place. We are not a Facebook nor are we Quora where a lot of non-clinical and sometimes irrelevant discussions take place. Docplexus has established itself as a highly professional clinical platform where leading KOLs and their peers discuss the issues which encourage the adoption and delivery of new treatment modalities.
Docplexus has highly optimized real-time network where communicating with each other is easy. This ensures an uninterrupted flow of information and opinions that are the biggest drivers in changing the clinical practices.