Physicians do not like Patient Opinion Leaders (POL)
After KOL, a new concept is growing… the idea that some pro-patients can influence enough all the other consumers, Elys Roberts explains in the latest Pharmaceutical Executive.
“the healthcare ecosystem is now comprised of multiple stakeholders with a far more complex decision-making dynamic than existed just a few years ago. In addition, patients are not a single homogenous unit. Some may have little or no impact on treatment decisions or healthcare choices while others may take an active individual role. But the ones that we find really interesting are those taking on almost an ‘activist’ role, impacting not only their own healthcare, but potentially many, many others as well. We call this last group the “pro-patient.”
This is the pro-active patient. They are not just personally empowered and assertive, but broadcast their experiences, opinions, and objectives and therefore have a far wider sphere of influence. (…)
If you search them out, you will find this vocal minority active in online forums. They have become the de facto Patient Opinion Leaders (POL)—and just as every pharma company has a KOL strategy, they now need a POL strategy too. (…)
These people have always existed. What is different now is that Web 2.0 gives them a much broader audience. In the past their sphere of influence was limited to family and friends, but now their audience can be measured in thousands or millions. (…)
We saw some examples of the negative passion of pro-patient activity, railing against the consequences of side effects of medication, for example, but most of the pro-patients we spoke to had good intentions and saw themselves as providing a valuable service. (…)
This kind of pro-patient broadcasting clearly has the power to influence the physician/patient dynamic on a wide scale. Interestingly, when we asked physicians about this phenomenon, responses varied by country (more positive in the UK, less positive in Italy for instance), but overall physician reaction could be characterized as cautious at best. (…)
So perhaps surprisingly, even if a patient’s source of information is good, or may have been from a pro-patient who broadcasted with the best intentions to help educate, this can still be viewed less-than-positively by physicians.
Roberts, Elys and Sarah Phillipps. The emergence of the Pro-Patient. Pharmaceutical Executive, January 2012, pp.48-49