September 13, 2021

Top 3 Trends for MSLs to Increase KOL Engagement during the Covid-19 Pandemic

November 30, 2020

Top 3 Trends for MSLs to Increase KOL Engagement during the Covid-19 Pandemic


A 'hybrid engagement' in the future, the role DOLs are playing, and the advent of advanced tools for KOL monitoring are the key trends that emerged during the MSL Society webinar. Read on to find more.

The Covid-19 pandemic is greatly challenging MSL professionals in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical devices, CRO and other healthcare industries in their ability to build relationships with KOLs.

On November 17, the MSL Society, a 501 non-profit organization dedicated to the MSL profession, hosted a webinar in collaboration with LARVOL, a leading provider of expertly-curated data, to reveal the results of a survey “Covid-19: “Challenges and solutions for MSLs” and explored the various opportunities arising.  

The online survey was conducted from September 20 to October 8, 2020 with 513 MSLs and managers from 42 countries participated.

Samuel Dyer, CEO of MSL Society moderated a panel composed of Luca Dezzani, VP, Head of US Oncology Medical Affairs at Eisai Inc. and Bruno Larvol, CEO and Founder of LARVOL discussing the survey results in the webinar titled “Social Listening of KOLs as a Tool for Medical Affairs”.

We’ve extracted the top 3 trends from our panel discussion:


#1 Hybrid engagement is the future of KOL-MSL relationships

In the survey, 10% MSLs reported that they have increased the engagements with their KOLs since the pandemic. Whilst the overall engagement with KOLs has decreased due to the pandemic, the quality of the relationship has become better. Pre-pandemic, most KOL-MSL meetings were traditionally in-person which have now had a dramatic shift towards virtual meetings.


The number of interactions doesn’t really tell the whole story”, mentioned Luca Dezzani adding further that virtual meetings typically offer less distractions, and a higher quality of engagement in a shorter time span. They are also quicker to set up and have resulted in better productivity for the MSLs.

Adding to Luca’s point, Bruno mentioned, “A good metric to check the strength of an MSL and KOL relationship would be the eagerness of the KOL to have calls”.


Both Bruno and Luca agreed that the future of this adaptive engagement will be a hybrid of the traditional in-person meetings that offer deeper relationship building and virtual meetings that are more convenient and productive for everyone.

Key takeaway: The MSLs who were able to increase KOL engagement during the pandemic are already ahead of the game and are effectively using the hybrid approach.


#2 MSLs need to watch out for DOLs (Digital Opinion Leaders)

During the pandemic, reaching out to colleagues to learn about any established relationships with the KOLs has been the preferred method for the MSLs. However, social media is the future. The pandemic has exacerbated the need for MSLs to adapt to social media to build relationships and has seen the emergence of DOLs (Digital Opinion Leaders).


During the webinar, Luca shared that DOLs are extremely influential with a huge following of peers, patient advocates and pharma professionals. For MSLs, it is crucial to understand who these DOLs are and who may not fit into the traditional KOL definition.

At times, there may not be an overlap between KOLs and DOLs.

Key takeaway: Twitter which has become a hotbed for all DOL activity, is a key social channel that constitutes 80% of activity insists Bruno, as he shared an outstanding example of this by mentioning the OncoAlert Twitter handle, a 12.6K strong community of oncologists .


#3 Advent of advanced tools for tracking & engaging with KOLs

34% of the surveyed MSLs answered positively to have begun using social media to tracking KOL activity during the Covid-19 pandemic. Both the panelists established the necessity of being on social channels to track, monitor and engage effectively with KOLs. MSLs who are not engaging actively with their KOLs on social channels are missing out on an enormous opportunity.


With the advent of feature-rich tools that offer the ability to do social listening, the MSLs and medical affairs can easily engage with KOLs. Tools range in complexity, features and pricing to provide different features for social listening. Twitter and LinkedIn emerged as the top social channels that should be used for monitoring.


Bruno shared his insights that social media engagement especially ‘liking’ and ‘retweeting’ are a valuable currency for KOLs, while for ‘commenting’ may need an established compliance framework. Luca added that MSLs sharing articles, knowledge and building thought leadership come across as experts who are on top of the latest developments in their fields.

Key takeaway : Smart solutions like Lavol Omni combines social listening with several other benefits for MSLs. Omni provides comprehensive KOL monitoring not just on Twitter and LinkedIn, but also provide their clinical trial information, Sunshine payments data, events, and conference schedules and more.

Watch a 15-minute video extract of the webinar below.

To read the full report, please click here. Discover more insights in our infographic here.

Download attached file

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up for our newsletter to get the latest news, updates and high-impact data delivered directly to your inbox.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.