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How to create a KIE

It is crucial that companies’ key internal experts have the right skills and attitude

Nic HallettKey opinion leaders, thought leaders and key external experts (KEE) have, for many years, been the clinicians, pharmacists and healthcare professionals working within the health service that have led best practice in their field and influenced disease management among their peers.

Clearly if such a person happens to also be an advocate of your medicines and brands then a relationship between the pharmaceutical company and the KEE is mutually beneficial. So beneficial that some have questioned the ethics and impartiality of the relationship no matter how impeccably individuals and companies have behaved.

The ultimate response from some has been to stop any sponsored advocacy by KEEs and these companies are now looking to create their own key internal experts (KIE) - fully employed clinicians, pharmacists or scientists who are subject matter experts in relevant therapy areas. Their role is to really understand the data and disease management trends.

The challenge is how to transform a company therapeutic expert into somebody that healthcare professionals will trust, believe and relate to. And this requires far more than just a deep knowledge of the therapy area and product data; it also requires the right skills and attitude.

The challenge is how to transform a company therapeutic expert into somebody that HCPs will trust

Imagine a KIE being represented by a library. To be effective clearly you need content, the books, and the more comprehensive the knowledge the better. But a library also needs to be accessible, the doors wide open and welcoming, the books organised, signposted and understandable just like the communication skills of the KIE. And finally the staff and the audience need a curious mind and trusting attitude if they are to take full advantage of the resources on offer.

Communication skills, knowledge and attitude 
Start with the fact that KIEs must have unparalleled knowledge of their field, the relevant therapy area, product and clinical data. This is often one of the key recruitment criteria for a KIE but knowledge is actually one of the most straightforward qualities to develop via reading, research and symposia.

A greater challenge is to develop the three effective communication skills that are required to unlock the doors to that wealth of knowledge. Firstly, KIEs must be able to create trusting one-to-one relationships if they are to discuss and debate, challenge and inform. Secondly, and equally important, is the need to take that engaging confidence into advisory boards and disease management meetings, whether it is to chair productively or to participate fully. Thirdly, as the conference platform beckons, they need to be able to command an audience so that the data comes to life in a compelling and convincing way.

Knowledge and skills are important but what truly differentiates a KIE is his/her attitude and this is less easy to train or develop. Your challenge is to recruit, coach and develop your most talented people so that they have positive, enabling beliefs in the product and brand as well as the data, the importance of the therapeutic area and the value of their role.

Equally important is an empowering, internal self-belief - an identity level confidence that enables peer-to-peer relationships, a belief in the right to be heard, to challenge and debate for the greater good of the patient.

Recruit people with the right attitude and then the skills and knowledge can easily be trained.

The well-informed 'detail man' is one of the most influential and highly respected individuals in the public-health professions. His niche is an extremely important one in the dissemination of scientific information to the medical, pharmaceutical, and allied professions. Upon him frequently depends the saving of life or relieving from suffering by virtue of his intelligent discussion of it with a physician. His opportunity to render service of extraordinary value to physicians for the benefit of their patients is in itself a source of real satisfaction. He serves humanity well.

From Arthur F Peterson's 1949 book Pharmaceutical Selling, Detailing and Sales Training

Today Excel Communications has over 40 trainers delivering global training programmes in every corner of the globe in any one of 10 languages.

Unique, engaging, bespoke communication skills training for field medical and medical affairs professionals from Excel SciMed.

Excel SciMed is the specialist medical/scientific division of Excel Communications.

For more information and to download a free copy of our latest White Paper - Building the Future of Field Medical, please visit our new website at or call the office on +44 (0)1628 488 854

Nic Hallett, managing director, Excel Communications

In association with Excel Communications

2nd November 2015

From: Marketing



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