March 8, 2021

The KOLs have spoken: virtual engagement is here to stay

KOLs value engaging online because it’s more convenient and conducive to providing deeper insights. How do we know? We asked them.

Leading pharmaceutical and medical device companies rely on input from key opinion leaders – KOLs – to drive their critical projects forward. Now, at the dawn of a new era of virtual work, these organizations are freed from the timeframes and travel budgets that once constrained KOL engagement. With asynchronous virtual engagement, experts from all over the world can gather online to participate in discussions and provide feedback, without leaving their clinic, their family, or their day-to-day.

At Within3, we talk a lot about how our over-time platform generates high levels of engagement and deeper insight from KOLs. This was true pre-COVID, and now that more people have experienced our platform, we can confidently say it holds true – because that’s what KOLs tell us.

Checking in with KOLs

Part of our post-session diligence includes asking KOLs, or anyone who uses our platform, to let us know what they liked about their experience. In looking back over the responses from 2020, a few high-level themes emerged: convenience, the benefits of being exposed to global perspectives, time for thought and reflection, and learning opportunities topped the list of ways our platform overcomes communication and insight-gathering challenges for life science companies.

These benefits also roll up to the teams who engage KOLs. Building inclusion, eliminating hierarchy influence, and accommodating people’s desire to engage at their own pace – and in their own place – result in more actionable insights to use toward the greater goal of improving patient outcomes.

Convenience, connection, consideration

Here are some highlights from KOLs, in their own words:

I liked the online session because we could still interact with global colleagues without having to travel. I like the format because it affords you more time in the clinic and with family.

Being able to share experiences with other colleagues from other countries makes us learn other ways to work.

The ability for everyone to have a voice and be heard, not just the loudest or most forceful person in the room.

The online sessions allow for more time to ruminate before answering...at a meeting with multiple KOLs in the room, there is just not enough time for everyone to voice their opinions.

I was able to really think about my questions and then ponder over others’ answers before the workshop, felt like it made me more productive.

The future of KOL engagement

While the timeline for a return to in-person events remains uncertain and will vary by region and by company, these comments underscore the value of hybrid and asynchronous approaches to KOL engagement. During the previous year, we’ve learned that the benefits of virtual work mean it is likely to stick around indefinitely – and perhaps become the new standard for world-class KOL engagement.

To learn more about what it means to be virtual by design, read “What does it mean to be intentionally virtual?