Why ‘hidden’ thought leaders and their networks can make (or break) your launch – BioPharma Dive

As part of your company’s launch preparations, you’ve identified the scientific and academic thought leaders actively engaged in your disease market. These are the key opinion leaders (KOLs) who are conducting research, publishing papers, and speaking at conferences. With this list, you feel confident you have the “key influencer” bases covered. However, if you’re focusing only on the most prominent and public voices, you may be missing a larger, even more critical segment: The “hidden” thought leaders at the regional- and local-levels of the market.

Although these thought leaders typically do not publish, present, or raise awareness about a new treatment on a broader scale, they are highly respected clinicians who help shape decision making by payers and other prescribers. These local and regional influencers have immense sway over clinical learning and behavior change (that is, product adoption) in their healthcare provider (HCP) networks. As such, they play a vital role in translating the scientific evidence that supports a product into clinical application.

IQVIA Launch Excellence research has found that when a respected advisor adopts a treatment protocol, the rest of that physician’s HCP network adopts that treatment at a rate 25% higher than networks where thought leaders have not adopted. It’s a fact worth repeating: Adoption of your product can be 25% higher when you properly engage these thought leaders.

While traditional tactics focus on building lists of KOLs, the wiser approach is to identify thought leader networks at every level in the market – and then use those insights to create a “go-to- market” product adoption roadmap. Although this capability is vitally important for any launch, it is arguably even more important for smaller companies where manpower and other promotional resources are comparatively scarce, and you need to maximize the return on every investment. Having clarity around thought leaders and their networks empowers you to engage, activate, and learn from them more effectively.

Unfortunately, finding the right thought leaders is not as simple as searching for KOLs or identifying high-volume prescribers; it is a much more nuanced process that requires vast data and machine learning to analyze interrelationships within and across clinicians’ networks. The IQVIA Thought Leader Network Science Model has been designed to deliver that level of insight. It provides a complete understanding of how every HCP in a disease market ties in from a network perspective to a certain number of defined clinical leaders. It also marries those insights to IQVIA Big Data – including prescription and claims data – so you can track network behavior change and pinpoint areas of opportunity within markets.

In short, the IQVIA Thought Leader Network Science Model provides the insights you need to craft a roadmap and game plan for engaging with the full range of important leaders.

Once you know your audience, you can maximize your scientific communications and strategic medical engagement planning, including a coordinated medical science liaison (MSL) deployment. Orchestrate your MSL resources to provide disease area and product awareness, support additional stakeholder planning and delivery, gather insights and inform evidence generation, and provide knowledge and scientific information exchange. MSLs can further identify, develop, and maintain relationships with key influencers and stakeholders, while playing a vital role in implementing engagement plans. With ongoing data-driven insights, you can also adjust these resources over the product lifecycle to support your scientific and medical strategy and meet the evolving needs of your thought leaders.

Developing an effective, science-based value proposition for your treatment is the critical first step. But your value proposition is only as strong as your ability to disseminate it in the broader marketplace. By revealing thought leaders and their corresponding HCP networks at every level, you know where to focus communication and education. These influencers can make or break your launch. With their help, you can gain traction in the market as they teach others about the benefits that lead to the adoption of your treatment. Without their help, your launch may stagnate.

IQVIA Launch Excellence research has found that just 10% of all launches achieve excellence – and if a product is not on that trajectory to success within the first six months of launch, it is unlikely ever to reach that status. In other words, don’t miss the chance to start strong with robust insights for finding hidden thought leaders and unlocking the value of their impact on HCP networks.

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