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Emerging trends and challenges of key opinion leaders (KOL)  industry

Life Science industry heavily relies on Key opinion leader relationship for marketing their products. Thus it is very important task for pharmaceutical companies to effectively manage opinion leader relationship

Life Science industry heavily relies on Key opinion leader relationship for marketing their products. Thus it is very important task for pharmaceutical companies to effectively manage opinion leader relationship. 

AS CRM (Customer Relationship Management), KRM (KOL Relationship Management) is an integral part of product launch and marketing for any pharmaceutical company.

The best practices for effective management of KOLs are: 

• Utilization of Software based technologies for identification

• Increase in number of scientific advisors

• Extensive use of social media in order to identify socioleaders

• KOL Mapping or influence mapping in KOL management

KOL management must be handled by an exclusive team which monitors it in all levels from medical affairs through all phases of product launch.

New Trends in KRM

The importance of KRM is increasing as the pharmaceutical and device companies depend on this for their product management.6

The key trends in KRM include:

• Structure of KRM

• KOL Mapping & Social Media Influence

• New Technologies

• Dedicated Staff for KRM

Structure of KRM

At present most of the companies follow a decentralized system for KRM but a hybrid or centralized system where an optimized strategy is designed by pharmaceutical company and the same approach must be followed by all countries.

KOL Mapping Social Media Influence

Identifying and managing OLs can be very well done by KOL Mapping where local OLs with innovative treatment can be targeted against a prominent KOL. An effective relationship can also be developed through KOL Mapping with the help of technology. At various geographic levels a quantitative approach can be utilized for identifying right KOL for a particular job.

KOL Mapping in social media can also be considered (Sociometric analysis) where real time data can be passed on to sales team for faster decisions related to products.

The OLs who influence social media in a particular local community are also of importance as they help in marketing of drug among other OLs and patients who follow on social media for a particular drug.

New Technologies

Applying new technologies to handle KRM with end to end access and an internal platform for KOL Mapping and maintaining relationship with OL. Various web based tools like VBA, CRM software can be used to manage the KOL relationship.

Dedicated Staff for KRM

KRM must be managed by an internal staff fully dedicated to KOL management. If web based tools are used to login and enter the KOL meeting with the company, there can be some technical issues like login problems surrounding it always. Thus an internal support staff including software experts must always be monitoring the tool such that any hindrances by users can be solved in real time.

Short Comings of KOL Management

Most companies into KRM have developed an integrated process such that KRM is done in a quantifiable way. This still has some challenges through in it some are: 

Differential Legal Tenders

Different legal and regulatory rules followed in different countries do not allow forming uniform KRM guidelines. However over the time, regulatory bodies of different countries are interdependent and seek mutual advice in forming any legislation. 

Hence best practice can be dined out by monitoring the most widely accepted regulations and internal company guidelines. 

Carrying the KRM approach to regional levels

KRM often fails due to the gap between corporate headquarters and individual countries brand teams. The country brand teams leave behind the actual goals of KOL interaction thus KRM often overlaps. 

The companies KRM strategy must be clearly communicated to all brand teams in each country and at the same time must be plastic enough to become accustomed to local levels.

Maintaining Technological Solutions

Some KOL management companies build highly integrated platforms for KRM but fail to sometime even engage the users. A best KOL management must have a robust technology platform with easy user access and end to end support. Internally support staffs are required to impel the process.

KRM is a strategic, integrated and computable approach than to just maintain a database with software tools. 

Accurate identification and validation is the foundation for the KOL Programme and also proper step down of strategies from corporate world to regional and country level is also a very important factor. Thus a global KOL program should bring into line corporate regional and country strategies for well managed programme. 

Authored by

Diwakar B

Director -  Operations

D2L Pharma


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Stories by Nagesh HR