Key Opinion Leader

What is a Key Opinion Leader (KOL)?

A Key Opinion Leader is a recognized expert within a particular therapeutic or functional area. They are typically influencers within their communities and may be doctors who other providers look to for guidance. A KOL can be a regional, national, or globally recognized expert and likely spends some, if not most, of their time on research activities and speaking at conferences and other meetings.

Pharma companies often work with KOLs in order to gain a deeper understanding of the market, how providers may view things, what evidence gaps may exist, etc. Most pharma research activities have KOL involvement as it ensures that the perspective of the clinical community is incorporated. Most major RCTs are run by steering committees consisting of KOLs. KOLs may also be gathered for insights at advisory board meetings or in 1:1 meetings.

In order to identify KOLs by type of expertise, geography, and influence, companies may undergo a structured search and categorization process known as KOL mapping. Doctors may be sorted into groups based on their research activities and involvement in the medical community.

KOLs may also be known as KTLs (key thought leaders).