A Tech Startup Created A Free Search Engine To Find Key Opinion Leaders For Health-Related Concepts

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Santa Barbara, CA - A tech startup created a search engine to identify key opinion leaders for health-related concepts.

What is a Key Opinion Leader (KOL)?

A key opinion leader (KOL) is a person or organization that has a high level of reputation-driven influence over a group of professionals, consumers, or regulatory agencies.

In the healthcare and life sciences circles, Key Opinion Leaders are usually people or institutions researching and developing cutting edge technologies for medical applications, but they could also be part of other professional circles like physicians, health system directors, hospital executives, study groups or even patient advocacy groups.

What makes a Key Opinion Leader unique?

More often than not, the source of their influence comes from achieving one or more of the following  milestones:

●  Published research pieces in recognized medical journals and received a significant number of reviews or citations.

●  Managed or executed multiple clinical trials leading to significant breakthroughs.

●  Spoke or presented research results at multiple conferences, often of international scope, on very specific topics.

●  Held executive positions within a high profile organization.

How to identify who really are Key Opinion Leaders in their areas of expertise?

How can we tell who the people or organizations that have the most influence for a medical concept are ? Th is is a valid question to ask, for example, when trying to select a person to serve as a brand ambassador.

If you ever tackled this problem you probably know that there are two main ways you can identify key opinion leaders:

1.  Read several specialized publications on the subject

This is the traditional route of reading many research papers via specialized websites like pubmed, medical journals and other specialized sources.

After reading enough publications, on cdc stacks for example, one can start to understand which are the names of researchers and institutions that come up often in a particular context, but this is time consuming and it is not easy to quantify the level of influence of a particular researcher for a given topic.

This method also requires that the reader has a minimum level of literacy on the subject to be able to assess who the authoritative sources on the matter are. The barrier of entry, in a way, is high.

An additional drawback is that there is no objective way to tell if person “A” has more or less influence than person “B” in a specific field or for a specific topic within that field. Frequency of publication on a topic, is not necessarily always equal to quality, or to authoritative status.

2.  Hire a consultant or market analysis agency

The second method involves hiring a market research company, like accelerationpoint, for example. Some firms are more technically savvy than others but the common thread is that they employ analysts and market researchers to read the research papers for you and compile a list of thought leaders in the field of interest. This process is still manual in most cases, might take several weeks and there is a cost involved.

 3.  There might be a 3rd option

A tech startup, recently launched a search engine that lets you find key opinion leaders in healthcare.

For example, suppose you wanted to find the top experts in California that research the use of Pregabalin in patients with Postherpetic Neuralgia, if you visit the link above, you can see that the search engine gives you the top experts in California for this very specific search criteria.

You can use the search engine to find people and organizations by searching for concepts like brand names, CPT codes, ICD codes, medications, organizations and locations. You can also refine the results by filtering down the set by multiple criteria.

According to their website, the system has coverage for over 50 million authors, 100 million publications, and 5 trillion author/concept pairs.

We performed some tests to get an idea on the coverage of the database. We were able to find some of our colleagues, friends and family members and the concepts the system detects or predicts they have influence for, seemed accurate. If you are curious, give it a try and see if you can see any of your colleagues in this KOL database/search engine.

We were also able to find some colleagues that are not directly in healthcare (i.e. engineering, economy), so the coverage did seem impressive.

4.  Other resources

Some professional networking websites like LinkedIn do offer capabilities to find professionals in specific business verticals, healthcare being one of them, but the coverage of concepts is a bit limited and to access these advanced features the user needs to pay a subscription fee (PRO version).

Do you have a preferred way of identifying key opinion leaders, or maybe tricks or ideas on how to use social media to identify KOLs? Please share your thoughts with us via the comments section below.


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