Monthly Archives April 2013

KOL Mapping and Profiling an Evolving Paradigm

A decade ago, key opinion leader (KOL) identification and mapping was a bleeding edge concept. At the time, life science companies were using word of mouth and sales force recommendations as a primary means for identifying the thought leaders in a given disease state area. Using an analytical approach for KOL identification was a foreign concept to many. I recall spending hours with clients trying to convince them about the need to try a new approach that could yield superior results.

Fast forward ten years. KOL identification and mapping of influential physicians are now ubiquitous elements in marketing and medical affairs strategies. The demand for greater accuracy and granularity has led to increasingly sophisticated KOL identification processes involving the integration of disparate databases, value adding the data, independently weighing and scoring of all the data and developing sophisticated profiling.

KOL identification and mapping is designed to empower pharmaceutical and medical device companies. This is accomplished through targeting the ideal physicians with whom alignment will ensure a product’s success. However, we need to challenge ourselves and our life science colleagues to look beyond this group and intent and recognize where else we can apply this state-of-the-art approach to drive the business forward.

Firstly, there is no reason why a KOL identification and mapping needs to be limited to drugs and devices. There are other types of products and services such as diagnostic tests and training initiatives that are used by select segments of our industry. Analogous to drugs and devices, often their acceptance is driven by data and supported by highly respected individuals to whom the decision makers look to for guidance.

Secondly, why only target physicians? Our prior research involving over 500 Nurse Practitioners (NPs) and Physician Assistants (PAs) has identified this group as a vital component for healthcare delivery. In certain cases they represent somewhere between 5% to almost 20% of the market depending on a product class. In total, well over 100,000 NPs and PAs are delivering health services in the largest market. Additionally, these professionals are influenced by their peers. We also note a significant presence of the NP/PA role in Europe. Please click here to order our white paper on the NP/PA market.

Thirdly, why limit such analyses to only clinicians? Recent research has indicated Chief Nursing Officers (CNOs) and Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) are critical for the adoption of new training tools at hospitals. These individuals can be identified and profiled based on predefined criteria. Using advanced means, we are able to identify the top one to two percent that are the most likely to be purchasers of a solution.

Lastly, new targets do not have to be limited to individuals. The same approach for identifying and profiling individuals is highly applicable for profiling institutions and organizations. Our work with industry leaders has repeatedly demonstrated a strong desire to identify and reach out to associations, research institutions, and patient advocacy groups that form a product’s ecosystem. Similar to an individual, a detailed and complex profile can be built with a company’s unique requirements in mind. Once such service derivative based on KOL identification and mapping that target organization is a process we term, identifying strategic development partners. Strategic development partner identification enables companies to grow a product pipeline through identification of key potential partnerships based on multiple search criteria. For example, the process enables companies to identify thousands of institutions conducting early stage clinical work in given disease state area and then identify the top 1% of opportunities based on a company’s unique requirement. This saves thousands of hours and years of wasted effort. Everyone is looking to identify the next generation products, why not use a new process to assist you with that effort? To order the white paper click here.

We have personally witnessed the rapid adoption of KOL identification and mapping as an integral component for building a product’s awareness with physician audiences. We envision the next evolution as an expansion of the offering into new business areas such as diagnostic tests and training. We feel that KOL identification and profiling need not be limited to only physicians; NPs and PAs and even CNOs and hospital CEOs can be critical to a products success. Finally, associations, advocacy groups, research institutions, and corporate partners are all critical elements of a products ecosystem. Using the most advance techniques can help companies identify new opportunities that are critical to a company’s success. The KOL mapping and profiling definition has expanded beyond being simply focused on physicians.

Snowfish has seen this evolution and developed solutions to empower our clients to take advantage of this new opportunity. For more information please contact

Posted by Dave Fishman  |  Comments Off on KOL Mapping and Profiling an Evolving Paradigm  |  in Management Consulting