Key Opinion Leader (KOL) engagement is best considered a step-by-step process. Rather than just looking up medical experts in PubMed or on a KOL identification system such as Pharmaspectra and then assigning field personnel to reach out and build rapport, we advise Medical Affairs (MA) to plan to have a coordinated approach to engagement. That way, all key stakeholders have a voice in drafting a KOL engagement plan that fits the opinion leader as well as the MA strategy. The exact contents of every plan differ but successful ones all include the same four components.
The Four Key Components of a Successful KOL Plan
- Brand (Medical) Strategy: Every Medical Affairs organization already has a brand/medical strategy already. This first component of your successful KOL plan is about aligning your KOL selection and actions toward activities that ultimately help you achieve your brand strategy. Depending on the lifecycle of your product, you may have a need for different types of KOLs in different parts of your lifecycle.
- Coordinated Objectives: Coordinating objectives is about prioritization across competing demands. It’s understanding the possible objectives each team has for the KOL and coordinating those objectives in the best interest of the KOL and the organization. This is why knowing each KOL’s engagement preferences, scientific priorities, and professional aspirations is important. One team will certainly own the execution of the plan, but again, this is not about owning the KOL. It’s about accountability toward accomplishing a plan.
- Objective Achievement Tactics: A KOL plan incorporates tactics to achieve objectives. Think sharing data, inviting to advisory boards, and attending speaker training. Understand your KOLs’ past engagements with your organization because, and ensure your tactics are designed to benefit the KOL as well as help you achieve your overall objectives. You should also get clear on how you intend to improve each KOL engagement and how you intend to measure that improvement, such as face-to-face time between the KOL and your Medical Science Liaison. Each team member must know what they are expected to achieve and by when.
- Measurable Progress: What measurements will you use to determine progress toward your KOL plan objectives, and how will you know when you’ve achieved them? For example, if there are seven tactics for the team on a KOL engagement plan, are they completing those tactics? All objectives should have a clear timeline, owner, and status update ability. You want to be able to confirm that KOLs are getting involved in your science and that they’ve participated in internal engagements such as advisory boards or speaker programs.
Together, these four components drive a general outcome—your Key Opinion Leader engagement plan supports both your organization and each KOL. If you would like to learn more about drafting a KOL engagement plan that allows you to easily measure KOL engagement success, feel free to contact Acceleration Point today.