KOLs Relationship Management

How does Market Intelligence interfere with Key Opinion Leaders?

Key Opinion Leader (KOL) is a term commonly used in healthcare. A KOL can be a physician, a C-suite medical member, or a top-tiered researcher. The most essential criterion in KOLs is their level of influence on their peers and the public, this is why a KOL needs to have an extensive experience in a specific specialty or niche.

Why are KOLs so important?

KOLs are key for the development of healthcare, as they have deep understanding of the current and future drivers and directions in the sector. This stems from their involvement in different aspects of the sector, either directly through their practice and profession, or indirectly through being part of associations, consortia, and advisory boards in different clinical areas. Moreover, and as mentioned earlier, KOLs need to have an extensive experience in their specialty or niche, which means that they exert high influence on their peers, students, patients, and the healthcare community.

A KOL is needed throughout almost all industries of the healthcare sector. In pharma, KOLs are needed in the four drug development phases:

1. Lead discovery: In this phase, KOLs are needed to navigate the regulatory landscape.

2. Pre-clinical studies: In this phase, KOLs can provide insights into the assays used.

3. Clinical studies: KOLs are highly valuable in this phase since they can recommend the trial to participants and engage in all the technical aspects of the study.

4. Post-marketing: This is the phase where KOLs are needed the most since they can contribute to the marketing of the drug to their peers, students, or even patients.

They can also engage in publications or educational content related to the drug.

Although the term “KOLs” originated first for the pharma industry specifically, it is now used in other healthcare industries such as medical technology, life sciences tools, biotechnology, healthcare services, and healthcare equipment.

In all the above mentioned industries, KOLs are not only needed for marketing campaigns during the product/service launch, they are also much needed afterwards to maintain the product/service position and provide insights about how it is perceived.

What makes a strong KOL management program?

Harnessing an effective KOL management program does not come easily. The first step should be assessing the project of interest to get acquainted with the project’s needs and objectives. The second step is identifying the relevant KOLs, based on the project characteristics recognized in step 1 in addition to the KOLs network and patient panel. Third step, and most important, is concerned with engaging KOLs in your activities. The figure below offers you guidance for the correlation between the kind of activities you can follow and the factors to base these activities on.

Manage closely

For KOLs that have high loyalty and influence levels, you need to keep abreast of your relationship with them and engage them in your activities whenever possible. Remember that this is the most important category of KOLs in your list.  

Keep informed

In this category, you will find KOLs who have high loyalty levels to your brand but secure limited influence. You still want to keep this category informed of your updates.

Keep satisfied

In this category, the KOLs have high influence levels but limited to no loyalty to your brand. Because of their impact on the healthcare community, you still need to keep this category satisfied through engaging them in activities occasionally.  


In this category, KOLs have limited loyalty and influence. However, things can quickly change and this is why you still need to monitor this category.

How can Hammer support you with your KOL relationship management?

As mentioned earlier, KOL relationship management is challenging. The process requires a combination of desk research and network navigation to identify KOLs of interest. After that comes the step of evaluating loyalty and influence of KOLs. For this, you need extensive interviews with each KOL to know their interests, expectations, needs, and experience. These insights eventually plot for you where each KOL is positioned and the level of engagement you need to maintain.

With our market intelligence tools and list of connections, we will help you reach high-impact KOLs to achieve your business objectives. We build for you a customized KOL management program based on the therapeutic area, brand, or even the country you target. Curious to know more? Get in touch!

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