Reach KOLs Online - Pharmaceutical Executive

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Reach KOLs Online
Web-based forums allow ongoing contact with key opinion leaders—on their schedule


Pharmaceutical Executive


The online resource center allows investigators to become more effective advocates. Like the MSL tool just described, it is typically a password-protected repository for registered KOLs with key trial and other evidence-based information. Most often it includes publications, slide decks, webcasts, training materials, and clinical trial materials like the investigator brochure. The center can also include the investigator list, investigator communications, a results summary, claim support, message results, a calendar showing Congress and workshop activities, and news. An "ask the other experts" section can also be used to reinforce communications with MSLs or to enable conversations between KOLs.

Near Approval: Teaching Tools

As a drug reaches the end of Phase III and nears approval, KOLs play a valuable role in informing other physicians about the market gaps and major market evolutions expected. Webcasts, online continuing medical education (CME), and therapeutic-area Web sites are usually the main conduits for such education. For example, one top-15 pharma company uses its therapeutic-area site to discuss the challenges of cardiovascular protection.

The impact of high-quality online training tools would be difficult and costly to replicate offline given the dynamic and interactive aspects offered—animations for mode of action, progressive slide buildings, transitions, and videos. In addition to eliminating the need for travel, the online medium can memorably illustrate physiology and pathology.

Online KOL education can also incorporate an immediate interactive exam following the online session to assess what KOLs have learned. And online tools can be used for future phases. This same survey tool, for instance, can be leveraged with MSLs and later on, during the postapproval phase, with detailing representatives.

On-demand education can be particularly powerful. KOLs get to choose what they want to view and when, which increases the likelihood that they will participate. Programs can employ not just text but the full range of video and audio, all fully hyperlinked to definitions and other content to increase the value of an educational session.

Interactive Web 2.0 features can add dramatically to the value of an interaction. One familiar example is peer content ranking in the form of popularity scores or recommendations (e.g., "physicians who found this content useful also found the articles below useful").

Since a powerful Web-analytics engine tracks activity at the individual KOL level, it can provide insights into variations in feedback, for example, by specialty. And it is possible to assess educational content, such as a videocast by a leading authority, by positioning it with a questionnaire to measure whether the key message was well communicated.

Enabling Advocacy

Advocacy starts several months before the expected launch date with speaker training. Training can be conducted effectively online by providing reference materials and illustrations from some of the KOLs. A user of such online speaker training will see a video from a leading KOL synchronized with the slide kit he/she is reviewing, with key data highlighted on the slide.

As KOLs are identified, biopharmaceutical companies need to develop effective relationships with them. Ideally, a KOL communications program would allow the company to rapidly engage, educate, listen to, and assess KOLs. In reality, MSLs and other professionals managing the KOL relationships lack sufficient time and resources to communicate with their KOLs frequently enough.

Online KOL management tools are increasingly providing solutions to manage these vital relationships. By combining relationship marketing activities with a Web portal, an MSL, a global product manager, or a KOL program manager can engage more KOLs more frequently and with customized content. The portal can be a simple repository of content or a dynamic, personalized resource.

An example of a Web-based tool to increase KOL and physician advocacy around product launch is a trial-alert publication service—a comprehensive Web-based e-mail alert system that highlights the results from clinical trials. This solution leverages Web analytics and Internet communications to:

  • Identify suitable target professional audiences, typically prescribing physicians and KOLs in a specific area
  • Engage those audiences regularly
  • Create a database of professionals for future communications
  • Control clinical statements from a regulatory perspective.

The advantage of this type of tool is that it typically leverages existing editorial materials and extends their reach to a much wider audience for a relatively low incremental cost.


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