A medical device startup developing a new device requires from experts active in the industry for decades. The term key opinion leader is common in medical devices and pharmaceutical companies.
Who are key opinion leaders?
- How does a medical device startup perform key opinion leader identification?
Key opinion leaders are experienced physicians who provide insight and guidance for technology development. Their opinion ensures that technology under development will meet or exceed market expectations.
Key opinion leaders are highly-informed healthcare professionals in their specialties, developments, and clinical trials. They voice their opinion and try new treatment approaches. Their clinical experience, expertise, skills, commitment, and vision support the company in the following areas:
- Technology design and performance
- Clinical trial strategy development
- Pricing and distribution preferences
- Feature preferences
- Competitive landscape comparison
- Training strategy for early adopters
- Insight into investment fundraising
Key Opinion Leader Identification
Key opinion leader identification and validation are important for timely and efficient product development with the required features. It requires rigorous criteria to identify key opinion leaders with the expertise and experience in top tier medical centers. They are reputed leaders capable of influencing through podium presentations and peer-reviewed publications.
Medical device companies work with medical device consulting firms for key opinion leader identification and validation. These firms have established criteria to conduct research and speak with respected leaders.
Medical device companies require instant feedback from key opinion leaders. Therefore, medical device consulting firms ensure proper key opinion leader engagement. Big medical device companies have established panels. Startups and smaller companies cannot afford these panels. They need to quickly identify key opinion leaders for a research study or a new campaign. They hire medical device consulting firms to identify and validate key opinion leaders.
There are two categories of key opinion leaders including – traditional key opinion leaders and digital key opinion leaders. Traditional key opinion leaders speak at conferences or publish research to share their thoughts. Digital key opinion leaders collaborate with peers online and use social media channels to share information.
The definitions of both categories overlap in some ways. Traditional key opinion leaders use new tools and speak at online events. As digital key opinion leaders have online influence, they also receive invitations to speak at events.
They offer their insights and thought leadership to peer physicians, patients, and the general public. They have an online following interested in health and well-being.
Medical device consulting firms search for trending hashtags and monitor online conversations related to specific specialties to identify digital key opinion leaders. Consulting firms use special tools to evaluate their popularity and influence level. It requires physician profile analysis to filter out from companies, social media channels, and physician-only networks. Consulting firms consider both qualitative and quantitative aspects to identify digital key opinion leaders.
- Relevance of content
- Relevance of the audience
- Products and brands mentioned in online conversations
- Online engagement with physicians, patients or the general public
- Frequency of posting
The firm conducts additional research to analyze the activities of the digital key opinion leaders on external websites.
It is tricky to identify traditional key opinion leaders. They have their own local communities. Their activities include publishing research and speaking at conferences and events. Medical device consulting firms rely on the following sources to identify traditional KOLs:
- Local events and national conferences
- Specialty specific professional member organizations
- Published research in medical journals
Importance of Engagement
Engagement is extremely important. Depending on the relationship, the engagement level differs among key opinion leaders. Medical device consulting firms learn about their interests and expectations to build and maintain trusted relationships. Key opinion leaders use different channels and have different needs and audiences. Consulting firms establish engagement by:
- Engaging key opinion leaders early
- Using them in content curation
- Getting feedback before publication
- Participating in social media
- Providing sharable social media content
- Providing resources for peer-to-peer conversation
- Monitoring social media accounts
Digital and traditional key opinion leaders have their own unique roles and needs. Today’s peer-learning environment requires both digital and traditional key opinion leaders to engage. A medical device company must understand that key opinion leader identification and engagement is an ongoing process. Medical device consulting firms have experience and tools to handle this process.