If you’re trying to identify the top 5 KOLs in Lung Cancer, and you don’t care where in the world they are, it’s not actually that hard to do. You can google “Lung Cancer” and “ASCO presenter,” and the top few names that pop up are likely to be a good starting point. But what if you need to go deeper? For decades, many of the companies who do KOL identification have treated it, by and large, as a one-size-fits-all proposition. In this 3-part series, I’m going to share what we’ve learned about going deeper to meet your specific needs. I’m going to talk about how to find the hidden KOLs. This week, we’ll zoom in on how to find the hidden KOLs with the exact combination of strengths you need.
Find the KOLs and Online Influencers with The Exact Combination of Strengths You Need
Finding global KOLs in a therapy area like Lung Cancer isn’t really that tricky (although I encourage you to ask your KOL identification partners how they know the KOLs on your list truly have global influence!). But what if you want to find the person who’s quantitatively most influential to their peers in the use of EGFR inhibitors or anti-PD-1 monoclonal antibodies in treating non-small cell lung cancer, who are also focused on health equity/inclusion and have a strong media profile?
In the example above, we identified 448 physicians in the US who met some of the criteria we established … but only three who met all of those criteria. By performing this kind of multi-layered influence strategy, we can quickly narrow lists of candidates for multiple business objectives across clinical development, medical affairs, commercial, marketing and communications.
Three Key Questions for KOL/Online Influencer Research Design
At HealthQuant, we design every HCP influence study around 3 key questions:
- Subject Matter Expertise: What are they influential about? Is it a Therapeutic Area? A procedure or class of treatment? An aspect of care delivery or policy? A financial or economic aspect of care?
- Functional Expertise: By what means is their influence exhibited? Is it that they’re always pushing the boundaries of the science? Successful at enrolling lots of patients into clinical trials? Their leadership in writing treatment guidelines? Their media or social media presence?
- Audience Relevance: Who are they actually influencing? Is it their peers? Policy makers? Treating/community physicians? Patients? The media?
Influence to Purpose
In over 4 years at HealthQuant, I’ve yet to run across a client who wanted something as simple as a list of influencers within a therapeutic area – and yet that level of detail is by-and-large what’s been produced by KOL identification firms for the last 20 years. Even worse, they’ve relied on desk research and nomination surveys to gather the information! [NOTE: There is nothing wrong with nomination surveys & desk research; at HealthQuant we do both! But we START with quantitative analysis.] In fact, they’re designed as if they were and END rather than a MEANS to an end. An influencer list is necessary in order to do things. And usually not just one thing, but many things. You may need to determine the right fits for an advisory board or fill out a speaker’s bureau. You may need to optimize your MSLs and your Sales Force. You may want to create a series of expert-led webinars or host a tweetup. You may need to mitigate the impact of a new competitor, or refute an inaccurate perception about your brand or product. You may want to publicize an upcoming open comment period in a CMS National Coverage Determination.
All of those use cases call for differing skills and experience in the HCPs on your influencer list – which means that based on your business objectives, we will always create a bespoke research plan to ensure that you are able to identify and get to know exactly the right influencers, on the right topics, to meet your objectives. We call this “Influence to Purpose.”
Integrating Multiple Influence Studies
For practical purposes, that means that most of the influence studies we conduct aren’t single studies; they’re actually the integration of several studies. In the example above (based on a real HealthQuant deliverable) consisted of 7 separate influencer studies that were integrated to produce a single master list of influencers that could be easily segmented based on each of the criteria we used to identify them. In the Lung Cancer example above, rather than trying to assess the ~50,000 global hematologist/oncologists, we were able to narrow our list to 448 who met the client’s exact criteria in terms of subject matter expertise, functional expertise and geography. And those 448 were segmented so finely that we could narrow down, for example, the 3 doctors who were leading influencers in every category whom we could tap for special duty as advisors, speakers, podcast hosts, etc.
Finding the Right Sets of KOLs for YOUR Business Objectives
Whether your needs for understanding HCP influencers are broad & complex or narrow and highly focused, HealthQuant can design the right list to meet your business objectives. To find out how, contact us via https://healthquant.com/contact/ or email us at [email protected].
Don’t forget to check out Part One of the series, Finding the Hidden KOLs – Geography
Stay turned for more in the “Finding the Hidden KOLs” series: Part Three (Future Influencers)