Lifescience companies rely on selected Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) to build advocacy for their technology, for clinical guidance on practice patterns, and for increased understanding of competitive technology usage and market trends. However, in the current era of comparative clinical effectiveness driving technology adoption, best practice roles for KOLS are expanding.

Technological advances in healthcare, an aging population with increasing healthcare needs, and higher consumer expectations of health care services all put additional strain on an already pressured and cost-constrained healthcare delivery system. Furthermore, the current technology adoption value-analysis process is driving a paradigm shift in the involvement of KOLs. Companies are adding KOL influence on business strategy to the scope of their requested services. Those companies desiring to pull adoption curves forward to increase market share, and those that have a desire for higher valuation and strategic exit seek Key Opinion Leaders who can provide more than just expert guidance on clinical market preferences and market trends. These companies engage those KOLs who also understand and can offer insight on the competitive landscape and provide insider knowledge on the best dissemination strategies to reach a particular audience.  In addition, the best KOLS will value a particular innovation and, most importantly, be able to speak to potential investors and acquirers convincingly about the value of innovation.

Nancy Patterson, President and CEO of Strategy Inc. (, believes that life science consulting companies need to effectively identify and bring into the fold KOLs who are able to communicate the clinical vision of their subspecialty with focus on the highest quality care delivery, matched with the ability to speak adroitly to senior executives and financiers with business acumen.  KOLs who understand the business of medicine and how purchasing decisions are made provide enhanced value for companies.  In addition, some physicians are expanding their education to include an MBA and learn the business process and strategy.  Such skills help to ensure that these highly specialized physicians will be more directly aligned with the company’s mission.

According to Patterson, an expertly selected team of KOLs provide your company with valuable insight to:

  • Ensure your technology design and performance leads clinical expectations
  • Support investment fundraising efforts
  • Expand the voice of the company with business partners or potential investors
  • Guide clinical trial strategy development
  • Provide competitive landscape and feature comparisons
  • Inform pricing and distribution preferences
  • Deliver training to early adopters

“Overall, it is critical that KOL clinical expertise is current, proven and well-respected, and that skill set is easily discerned,” says Patterson.  “It is the business skills that are more often elusive because they exist outside of a clinician’s training and day-to-day experience. Such communication and negotiation skills are less common among practicing clinicians and often catapult a clinician into senior management positions within healthcare facilities, which can leave less time for more grassroots efforts with lifescience company development.

“This catch-22 can make the identification of those KOLs with the requisite skill more of a challenge, but highlights the importance,” Patterson says. “In addition, with the genesis of Open Payments, and full transparency of financial relationships between drug and device manufactures and healthcare providers, some physicians are less willing to be involved with industry.  However, such KOLs do exist, and identification of these valuable entities is an important effort.”

The careful identification and validation of clinical Key Opinion Leaders with the requisite expertise, clinical experience, vision, network, interpersonal skills and commitment to clinical excellence to provide ongoing insight for lifescience entities is an important component of a successful lifescience product launch strategy.  An established vetting process will outline their vision for specific innovation and clarify their perception. The integration of a KOL strategy can be especially important for changing the standard of care emerging technologies since market models may not yet exist to effectively predict adoption.

Patterson recommends and routinely performs the KOL Identification and Validation to support her clients as they proceed towards the path of successful innovation commercialization with proven success and highlights the necessity of bringing the KOLs on board early to maximize on the significant value they provide at every stage. Over the years she has developed and refined two processes to best identify and validate potential KOLs for Scientific Advisory Boards, Clinical Studies and Market Diligence objectives. To learn out more about how Strategy Inc. can help you find and engage the best KOLs for your organize email or visit their website

Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) provide valuable insight for emerging medical technology innovation.