KOL Development – The Key to Unlocking Success


In healthcare sales and marketing, key opinion leaders (KOLs) play an important role.

KOLs may contribute to research and development, act as commercial advisors, support market access activities or participate in medical education programmes to help people understand the true value of a product.  KOLs use their influence to shape the market for you, but may not necessarily talk openly about it; instead they may suggest there is a place for it in clinical care. They have a unique level of credibility and influence that peers listen and turn to for knowledge and advice, on specific treatment approaches or disease areas stemming from years of experience within their field.

Traditionally, this term would have been limited to mean a healthcare professional. Today, KOL extends to mean a much broader group including payers, commissioners, patient groups and many more. This shouldn’t be confused with a ‘product champion’, who openly encourage and support the uptake of your product. A Product Champion will get your product onto formulary listings, put forward the business case to justify spend and encourage their colleagues to support and use your product.

Healthcare SMEs need to invest their time and money to developing good relationships with their KOLs and identify potential product champions. Those who don’t might be missing a trick. Just because someone has shown an interest in your product does not make them a KOL or a product champion, it goes way beyond that.

To get the most from your KOL engagement, dialogue needs to be transparent and goals shared to anchor relationships. Remember, don’t be afraid to ask for advice, take-on feedback and be ready to anticipate their requirements.

The KOL relationship has come under increasing scrutiny. Last year changes came into effect in the way pharma companies in Europe work with KOLs, requiring companies to disclosure any transfers of value (interpreted as payments for time owed in lieu), via a public portal.

It’s still early days to see what impact this register will have on the healthcare industry, on and beyond pharma.  For now, KOLs continue to play a key role of working in collaborating with the healthcare industry to help improve patient care and treatment options.

At Onyx Health, we understand the importance of KOLs as a necessary component of a company’s success. We have a wealth of experience identifying who those KOLs are, where we can find them and how to build relationships with the right KOLs to advocate for your brand.

For more information about our KOL Development services, contact Onyx Health on 0191 640 3638, email us at enquiries@onyxhealth.com or visit www.onyxhealth.com/packages.

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+44(0)191 640 3638


Onyx Health Limited, Maling Exchange, Hoults Yard, Walker Road, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, NE6 1AB

© Onyx Health 2019

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