Thought Leadership

  • KOL Influence Drives KOL Engagement

    From KOL List To KOL Action: The Role Of KOL Influence

    You have in front of you a syndicated KOL database of gargantuan proportions showing you everyone with any sort of activity in your therapy area. You have a million names with metrics to match.

    But to get from this point to actually achieving your medical objectives and making important decisions with regards to KOL & HCP engagement that align perfectly with your strategic imperatives requires a whole load of additional insights around ‘influence’ – insights which a database can’t give you.

    So what are these additional insights around ‘influence’ that should feed into your decision-making to ensure you maximise the opportunity your medicine presents?

    Authentic Influence

    The level of activity an expert has or who they are most connected with is not a proxy for authentic influence. The question “how influential is this expert” can only be answered by the people they supposedly influence – because it’s their viewpoint that makes the expert influential or not. To gauge true influence therefore involves looking beyond purely quantitative data and directly engaging other KOLs and your wider therapeutic community to assess who are the truly influential KOLs, not just the most active, vocal, or visible.

    Type of Influence

    A KOL may be considered influential, but what’s going to be more important is the type and nature of that influence. For example, do others look to that KOL for practical guidance on everyday treatment decisions, or do they value more the KOL’s viewpoints on innovative theoretical approaches to management as a whole? Furthermore, is that KOL influential when it comes to other KOLs, or are they more relevant when it comes to frontline HCPs?

    Sphere of Influence

    The geographical and public reach of a KOL, especially in the digital realm, is of critical consideration when engaging with a KOL. The type of activities you want to engage with, the sort of content you want to collaborate on with that KOL, and even the clinical data messages that can be discussed and communicated - they’re all governed by the sphere of influence of that KOL.


    Is there a KOL community that’s in itself considered a ‘centre of influence’ in your therapy area? It’s likely there is more than one group of such KOLs that have established themselves through their thinking and activities as a powerful communal force for advancing patient outcomes. Where exactly does a KOL that you want to engage with sit within such communities? That’s an important factor because by engaging that KOLs you are also in effect engaging that community. And this inevitably comes with its own opportunities and challenges.

    Micro Vs Macro

    We tend to associate the word ‘influence’ with a KOL who has a large reach, a significant audience, a well-known ‘name’ etc. Yet in many therapy areas there exist micro-influencers who may have a limited reach (as defined by traditional metrics) and who may not be as visible as the ‘usual KOLs’, but who are very highly respected in their niche areas of expertise. Such experts will not be picked up by traditional KOL identification and mapping systems because there activity in the therapy area as a whole, especially compared to the top experts, will be considered too low by any algorithm to be seen as important. Yet if your medical strategy calls for education, action, and advocacy around issues that affect focussed groups of HCPs, then micro-influences will be of tremendous importance.


    Putting all of the above together, an example: your medical strategy calls for increasing the awareness of a specific clinical characteristics that differentiates your medicine and on which you have a new cut of data forthcoming shortly, then engaging the right KOL – with the right type of influence, whose thinking is valued by the right audience, who has reach in the right geography, and whose KOL peers represent an important clinical community – will no doubt impact how successfully you execute your strategic imperatives.

    Generating a list of KOL names is a start. But what should be clear is that only by having the right insights on all the above components that constitute ‘influence’ can you ensure that the KOLs you choose to work with are aligned 100% to your medical objectives and your strategy.

    To find out more talk to us or visit VMLY&R - KOL Insights.

    Keywords: KOL identification, KOL mapping, KOL influence