Written by Robert Groebel
Life sciences companies rely heavily on key opinion leaders (KOLs) throughout the drug development process, prior to product launch and beyond for their specialized expertise, guidance through clinical trials, and ability to educate their scientific peers on a product’s ability to drive patient outcomes.
Established, influential and widely respected healthcare professionals (HCPs) are highly sought after for their deep expertise, but increasingly, life sciences companies are seeking a different type of thought leader for scientific exchange, advice and consultation: young, promising HCPs who bring less experience but significant potential to the table.
These are the so-called “rising stars” of healthcare.
Work with tomorrow’s top influencers today
Emerging healthcare providers and rising stars can be your company’s key to product success from development through commercialization. Here are a few reasons to choose a fresh face over a clinician with decades in the field:
Invest early for a stronger product launch
The life sciences industry has infamously long product development cycles—up to 12 years for a single indication, and three to seven years for a medical device.
Your team can invest in future success by identifying promising physicians today, working with them as your product goes through clinical development, and building a relationship of mutual respect and trust. This ensures that well-informed physicians at the height of their careers are familiar with you and your product—and available as KOLs when it finally comes to market.
After years of developing a mutually beneficial working relationship and sharing information, the former rising star might just become your “rock star”.
Reach high-value providers before they are too busy
Healthcare providers are busy people—even without partnering with pharmaceutical companies. As their career progresses and they become more well-known and sought-after as opinion leaders, their time will be even scarcer. They might not have the capacity to sit on another advisory board, speak at another conference or conduct another clinical trial.
By establishing a long-standing mutually beneficial working relationship with an HCP when they aren’t in such high demand, you can help secure their ongoing involvement and commitment to your company as their demand increases.
Get a different perspective
These rising stars may lack the traditional depth of experience, but they can bring to your team a fresh perspective, innovative ideas and insight into unexplored opportunities in the market.
The stars among tomorrow’s thought leaders might well be today’s rebels, working in novel or ground-breaking fields, conducting innovative research or otherwise challenging the status quo.
These qualities are becoming increasingly attractive as traditional patient pathways and methods of healthcare delivery are undergoing drastic shifts. Today’s unconventional ideas might be tomorrow’s established solutions, and a rising star can help your company get in on the ground floor.
Establish a network of younger experts
Being a recognized thought leader increasingly requires proficiency with digital technology—whether for communicating with their patients and peers, researching the latest publications or working remotely with a medical science liaison—which younger HCPs have grown up with and are more experienced with than their older colleagues, on average.
These emerging thought leaders are in a better position to reach HCP colleagues of a similar age. While physicians aged 60 or older currently make up 29% of the physician workforce, those younger than 40 aren’t far behind, comprising around 24%.
Younger KOLs are more likely to know and work with other young HCPs, whose insights into the latest and greatest technological innovations could be invaluable to your development efforts. Once you’ve identified and partnered with a rising star, you can begin to establish a rapport with the new wave of providers on the cutting edge of medicine.
Communicate with younger patients
What goes for communicating with colleagues is also true for communicating with patients. Younger patients expect their interactions with healthcare providers to increasingly utilize technological conveniences, whether scheduling an appointment, accessing lab results, or having a video consultation with a doctor.
As healthcare continues to focus on patient outcomes, the importance of real-world data collected directly from patients (e.g. using wearable devices, biosensors, etc.) will increase. This makes working with highly tech-savvy HCPs even more important.
Find your rising star
Healthcare is changing quickly and dramatically, and life sciences companies need to stay on top of these developments. While professionals with many years of deep experience will always be sought after as advisors and KOLs, building relationships with younger, tech-savvy HCPs with novel ideas and approaches is one way to prepare today for what the healthcare industry might bring tomorrow.
To accurately find these rising stars, you’ll need to generate insights from healthcare commercial intelligence. Book a demo today to see how machine learning and billions of medical claims data combine to help you find the game-changing expert who can accelerate your commercialization process.