Thought Leadership

  • Rising Stars / Emerging Experts

    Emerging Experts: Whose Rank is it Anyway?

    Traditionally people tend to identify and rank emerging experts & rising stars based on quite traditional and defined metrics – their increasing number of publications, their growing academic qualifications and awards, their on-going involvement in trials or guidelines.

    If you’re generating lists from a KOL/HCP database, it’s highly likely that you will be using such metrics to find Rising Stars and Emerging Experts.

    However, the increasing complexity of many fields of medicine together with changes in the training path of professionals means these traditional attributes may not be relevant today or even applicable to every therapy area/market.

    For example, publication count is for sure a weaker indicator of influence today than it once was – it’s highly unlikely that anyone produces a high volume of individually and independently ground-breaking research outputs several times a year, so this marker alone cannot be used to reliably infer academic value or gauge future potential of emerging experts.

    Equally, the ability to publish research and reach a wide audience has become much easier in the past decade, creating its own challenges in identifying those with true potential to become future KOLs. There have also been several publications about authors with unfeasibly high number of publications to their name (including one from us).

    What about awards and prizes, another traditional metric used to identify the leaders of tomorrow? In all our extensive research and daily engagement with KOLs, they say it’s difficult to verify the value of these in early careers; many established KOLs even eventually drop the granularity of their earliest achievements from their current resumes. Furthermore, the value of an award today cannot predict the recipient’s preference, drive, or performance tomorrow.

    Perhaps up-and-coming researchers attached to large centres are most likely to be the KOLs of tomorrow? We know that there are certain hospitals, universities, and academic centres of excellence that appear time and time again in our research – and, if we look back over the years, these locations rarely change. Can we at least narrow the pool of potential rising stars by looking at those attached to centres of excellence? Furthermore, is it more challenging to call Rising Stars in large, fast-moving fields or does a smaller pool reduce the potential of future KOL opportunities, making the identification of Rising Stars even more challenging?

    With all of these factors in consideration, it’s fair to say that the identification, and even the definition, of emerging experts has to be specific to each treatment area and even each market; there is no one-size-fits-all approach.

    And In the evolving world of medical affairs where insights are increasingly used earlier in the drug development process, you will need the most contemporary insights from the most influential experts, as quickly and early as possible.

    So if your list of rising stars is based on the measures and metrics you’ve been using for years, you’re not maximising the importance of this cohort altogether. To identify and characterise today’s emerging experts, you need to look much more at the nuances of each therapy and then engage directly with the leading experts/KOLs in those areas to get their point of view about emerging experts, interesting experts, researchers with innovative points of view, and all the other cohorts that together make up the people that will impact the future of your medicine.

    For more information on identifying emerging KOLs/experts, talk to us or visit VMLY&R - KOL Insights.

    Keywords: Emerging Experts, Rising Stars, KOL identification, KOL mapping