Pharma and The Rise of Digital KOLs
Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) is a commonly used term by Pharma companies to describe experienced doctors who are widely acclaimed, well respected, and possess immense knowledge of a specific field. They provide thought leadership to their peers. They often speak at regional, national or international conferences and publish articles in professional journals on regular basis.
Changing treatment practices is often not that simple, since healthcare delivery is always evidence-based. The KOLs are often found to lead the change in medical treatments and new drug adoptions and thus are considered the early adopters. A 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 benefit patients. They are key to the marketing and communication strategies of Pharma companies.
The majority (above 70%) of the top KOLs are now on digital platforms and are connected to thousands of other doctors. The KOLs who are active on digital professional platforms wield more influence over other doctors in the therapy area as they are accessible, proactive and willing to connect and share their knowledge and opinion with their peers. Pharma companies have traditionally focused heavily on KOL engagement but has their approach changed now with KOLs being active on the new channel of digital platforms. Let’s delve deeper into the current class of Digital KOLs and how to engage them better.
Who Are Digital KOLs?
Digital KOLs demonstrate distinct characteristics. No doubt these are experts in their respective fields of practice as they have gathered valuable experience over years through various patient cases and dynamic therapy-shaping discussions. However, to become a digital KOL only these aspects are not enough. The digital KOLs demonstrate:
Digital KOLs like any KOLs highlight the uniqueness of their expertise in a specific field. Digital KOLs should have an online presence in reviewing products, research, be ready to give interviews and speeches & contribute to articles (by co-authoring). A digital KOL must be willing to interact with other doctors with digital tools and communication 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 that is relevant for their field. Digital KOLs’ control of the Internet is very important as it drives 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 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 maintain 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 ongoing discussion. The more they are active on the web, the greater influence they develop. Pharma must make efforts to encourage the KOLs to remain active on digital channels.
How Should Pharma Collaborate with Digital KOLs?
- Engage with KOLs for digital presence: Develop a digital strategy to engage with the KOLs who are already visible on digital channels. These KOLs are quite proactive and engage with their peers on a variety of topics related to their therapy area. Engage with these KOLs with your proprietary insights. Encourage them to ask questions, answer queries from fellow physicians and develop a conversation on the professional platform such as Docplexus.
- Understand and fulfill the 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 in 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 dynamic and highly responsive medium that requires timely attention. It is important not to limit your KOL engagement activities to one-off activity. One time activity often restricts 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 9 to 12 months to achieve desirable outcomes.
KOL interview series, KOL case presentation series, KOL surgery series, KOL-led accredited CMEs, KOL opinion videos, KOL webinars, panel discussion with national or regional KOLs are a few solutions that can keep KOL engagement going on digitally. 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 3,80,000+ doctors. We are the biggest nationwide networking preference for KOLs to connect with their peers in over 99 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 highly focused platform where only clinically relevant discussions take place. Docplexus has established itself as a highly professional HCP platform where leading KOLs and their peers discuss issues encouraging adoption and delivery of new treatment modalities, and bust the myths surrounding drug classes for varied specialties.
Docplexus has highly optimized real-time networking capabilities where communicating with each other is not just easy but highly secure. This ensures an uninterrupted flow of information and opinions that are the biggest drivers in changing clinical practices.