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Nov 23, 2022

How to improve your KOL Engagement #4 How do we communicate internally?

Our fourth tip on better KOL Engagement is to prioritise internal communication about key opinion leaders and the activities you conduct with them. Almost every company we work with admits to having difficulties with this so don’t be despondent if you feel this is an area that needs to improve. It is possible that different silos within your company – whether scientific, marketing, medical affairs, local or global – are unaware who the others are working with. Disjointed KOL interaction leads to a dissatisfied KOL and inefficient KOL activities.

There is no stock solution – what works will be specific to your company’s needs, processes, resources and budget. However, processes do need to be created that ensure that all areas communicate with each other and that you know which KOLS have been engaged with and will be engaged with. The ideal way to create these internal processes is to set up a working group to establish the KOL engagement processes, either brand or therapy area specific or across the whole company. This working group is an opportunity both to diagnose the problems with the current system and to share best practice and hence decide what processes will be needed, however, a starting point for this work would be to consider the following.

Firstly, how is knowledge of KOLs, and information about the activities that teams have conducted with them, shared? This information also compliments any formal KOL identification and mapping process you have or will carry out (as seen in tip 3 article).

Secondly, because effective KOL engagement is built on trust and mutual knowledge, the most effective KOL management programmes are long-term, certainly for the lifecycle of the product and maybe for the whole of the KOL’s career. This means the relationships will need to be passed from medical to marketing or medical affairs and in the case of international KOLs from the global or regional organisation to the countries and sometimes vice versa. How will this be decided and communicated within your company?

Thirdly, there will be limits on how much time any KOL will give to an individual company – determined by regulatory factors; company set limits; budget; or limits decided by the KOL. With international KOLs balance needs to be struck between global and local activities, and you will want to consider when an international KOL is most needed at a local level (normally in the run-up to launch). Again, there will need to be an agreement about how this is managed between different areas.

KOL engagement can be resource heavy and even small improvements in coordination of information and activities can reap enormous benefits.

Joe Kendle