Having studied physicians’ online influence for almost 15 years, we know how quickly patterns of online influence can change. For most therapy areas, you can count on needing a refresh at least every 6 months. But when HealthQuant began 5 years ago, we were shocked to find how quickly “traditional” KOLs turn over as well. In fact, in the hundreds of KOL studies we’ve done, 20 to 30% of the top 100 KOLs in virtually every therapy area turn over every 2 years. Read in a more critical way:
Manufacturers who haven’t completed a comprehensive study of KOL influence within the last 2 years not only don’t know who up-and-coming leaders are; they are also missing a notable percentage of true influencers today.
That fact has startling implications for our pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device clients who are often forced to rely on anecdotal assessments of physician influence. Even those who rely heavily on peer nomination processes are essentially using statistical methods to collect anecdotes about physicians. [To be clear, we see tremendous value in peer nominations, but not as the exclusive or even the primary factor in assessing a KOL’s status. Their key element of value is in segmenting physicians to better understand things like physicians’ particular skills (e.g., the KOL is a highly compelling speaker and communicator – or not).]
As we enter into a period of greater economic uncertainty, it’s vital not only to have a comprehensive HCP strategy; that strategy has to be based on truly understanding which physicians are best positioned to influence their peers now and in the future.
If you’ve read either of the prior posts in this series, you know that our “Influence to Purpose” model is based on identifying physicians with 1) the right subject matter expertise; 2) the right functional expertise (i.e., by what means their influence is exhibited) and 3) the most relevant audience (whom they are best-positioned to influence). It’s important to note, however, that none of those factors are static. Physicians change their areas of focus over time. They may begin to emphasize teaching over research. They may gain or lose (or lose interest in) a media platform. These variables are changing all the time, and all of those changes can be measured.
After years of honing our approach, HealthQuant has developed a model for assessing physicians’ influence over time and developing scores for the trajectory of their influence (are they becoming more or less influential over time) and the velocity of that change. This model helps to show which KOLs who may have been at the top of their game 5 or 10 years ago, and still may be very well-known, are actually losing influence. This kind of insight, which is critical to our clients, is often overlooked.
Our “quant-first” approach also allows us to identify rising stars – those whose influence is trending up, and doing so at a rapid pace. But as any good practitioner knows, quantitative methods of assessing influence don’t tell the entire story. That’s why our approach also includes meticulous qualitative research to better understand the “why” behind the numbers. For example, it’s important not only to understand that a young physician has advanced from a global KOL rank of 2,000 to 200 in three years – although that does certainly get our attention! We’re also going to focus on unearthing the root causes for that change. To cite a common example: A physician has been training under the guidance of a top global KOL over the past few years, exposing her to cutting edge research. Now she’s moved on to start and lead her own research lab at another top academic medical center. It’s this kind of insight that can tell us not only WHO is a future KOL, but WHY that’s the case and HOW best to work with them today and in the future.
If you’re interested in not only knowing – with precision – today’s KOLs but also who will (and won’t) be at the top of that list in 2-4 years, please don’t hesitate to get in touch! Contact Us | email firstname.lastname@example.org
We’d love to give you a personal walk-through of our approach and to see whether HealthQuant can help support you in your work – whether you’re in marketing, commercial/sales, medical affairs or clinical development.
Don’t forget to check out Part One of the series, Finding the Hidden KOLs – Geography
And Part Two of the series, Finding the Hidden KOLs – Multi-Layered, Segmented Influencer Lists
And stay tuned for Part Four, Finding the Hidden KOLs – Leaders in Health Equity and DEI