Tips for KOL Engagement Strategic Planning for Medical Science Liaisons

Increase Effectiveness of MSL Interactions with a Solid KOL Engagement Plan

Utilizing an Outcomes-Based Framework

Medical Science Liaisons (MSLs) are consistently looking for ways to increase the effectiveness of their engagements with Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs). To do this, many Medical Affairs teams are creating in-depth KOL engagement plans, capturing insights, and measuring a KOL’s movement along a development continuum. 

During TikaMobile’s presentation at the 9th Annual MSL Society conference in December 2021, our CEO asked the audience: “Does your organization have a clear process in place to analyze insights and capture outcomes from KOL interactions?” To our surprise, only four people out of nearly 500 attendees answered yes. 

However, this answer should not have come as much of a surprise, as Medical Affairs teams often report that there is no consistency in the follow-up being taken by their organizations using the data gathered from KOLs to form actionable insights. This lack of a formal process often leads to missed opportunities, leaving valuable data and insights untapped.

The Importance of KOL Insights

Let’s take a look at a scenario where a KOL provides an MSL with a valuable insight:

An MSL working for a medical device company gets word from a KOL that their device can be used in another therapeutic area in which the device is not currently indicated. Seeking regulatory approval for this indication was not even on the organization's radar and this KOL insight unlocks a major business opportunity. 

The inability to capture these insights appropriately can be a huge missed opportunity for an organization. 

The million dollar question is: how do I get my company out of this category of missed opportunities? Or, better yet: how do I avoid falling into that category altogether? It is never too late to course correct, but to do so, it is imperative that your Medical Affairs team measures the impact the KOL has on your strategic objectives. To do this, your organization needs a strategic plan that is focused on an outcomes-based framework. 

What is an Outcomes-Based Framework?

An outcomes-based framework is a strategic approach in which all elements of the strategy are oriented towards achieving a desired outcome. Utilizing an outcomes-based approach means that every step of your KOL strategic planning is framed by a set of goals that will enable you to achieve the expected outcome. Beginning with the end in mind provides MSLs clarity regarding what their goals are and allows the team to have a clear understanding of what needs to be done to achieve these goals.

At TikaMobile, we’re providing you with the steps necessary to create an outcomes-based framework that will take your organization’s KOL engagement plan to the next level.

How to Develop a Successful KOL Engagement Plan

Step 1: Identifying KOL Strategies and Objectives

It is important that Commercial and Marketing teams include the Medical Affairs team early in the strategy creation and objective planning process. Being that MSLs are the main point of contact with KOLs, they can provide valuable insights from KOL interactions during internal strategic discussions. Doing this ensures that MSL’s KOL engagements are aligned with corporate strategy and provide valuable feedback to make internal collaboration seamless and transparent. 

Outlining your organization's KOL engagement strategies is important, but when you also add measurable objectives, your ability to accomplish your strategic goals increases. The inclusion of objectives for each of your strategies will ensure that action is being taken by your Medical Affairs team. 

Step 2: Applying Strategic Imperatives to Medical Needs

In general, KOLs tend to view MSLs as more knowledgeable about specific disease states in filling information gaps than sales representatives. An MSL should strive to develop an in-depth understanding of their KOLs’ priorities and interest in their disease state. Taking the time to anticipate medical needs, while keeping strategic imperatives as the guiding framework to these needs, will enable MSLs to take a more personalized approach when engaging with KOLs and, in return, help the MSL build trust. The added benefit of this approach is that MSL-KOL  interactions become more engaging and insightful.  

Step 3: Placing KOLs on a Segmentation Continuum

Creating a KOL segmentation continuum is an effective way for MSLs to keep track of what stage their relationship with a KOL is in and how they are progressing. This allows your MSL team to approach KOL interactions more strategically and consistently. Once your organization has put objectives and strategic imperatives in place, you should create a relationship continuum for these KOLs. First, define the different stages of this continuum for your organization, and then identify different milestones aligned to each of these stages.

  • Identify the KOL and their needs and segment them accordingly.
  • Initiate an introduction meeting, assess expertise and interest, and identify opportunities.
  • Cultivate action on the insights gathered during interactions.
  • Collaborate to provide company and product education and continue to build rapport with KOLs.
  • Advocate in company research and as a speaker for the company.

Using these different stages and milestones, the MSL team can easily determine where each KOL is placed on the segmentation continuum and set up activities to help move the KOL along the continuum. This empowers MSLs to not just capture the number of interactions and topics discussed, but go deeper and take note of what the outcome of the conversations were.

Step 4: Arming Your Medical Affairs Teams with the Right Tools for KOL Engagement Strategic Planning

A KOL engagement strategic plan is only as effective as the tools used to implement it. Medical Affairs teams must be armed with a next-generation tool in order to be successful in moving KOLs along the segmentation continuum. Having the right tool allows MSLs to spend less time pulling reports and more time doing what they do best – building relationships with KOLs.

TikaMobile’s platform, TikaMSL, enables Medical Affairs teams to create customizable dashboards to track KOL engagement and capture actionable insights and outcomes all within one application. Like other TikaMobile products, TikaMSL offers a fast and unique user experience which encourages frequent utilization, empowering your Medical Affairs team.

If you’re interested in learning more, our team is ready to show you how your team can use the TikaMSL platform to develop the right KOL engagement strategy for your organization. Contact us today to schedule a demo and learn how TikaMSL can help increase the effectiveness of your team.