Hail the DOL and a Valuable New Digital Channel

With the ever-growing demand for digital learning and social media in healthcare, digital opinion leaders (DOL) have now arrived on the multichannel scene. DOLs include healthcare professionals (HCP) who are influential members of an online community (around 30%) to whom others turn to for advice, opinions and information.

DOLs have a growing number of followers and generate a lot of usually very disease-specific and highly relevant content which is actively shared. This includes therapy developments, new evidence and advances in the field, and patient information. They often also directly appear in engaging digital activities and, based on their reach and resonance, represent a new digital opportunity for collaboration and education of peers and their patients, alongside the more traditional key opinion leaders, of whom less than 20% will have a social media presence.



Seven metrics can be used to define DOLs, who can then be identified by using custom quantitative and qualitative approaches. Our methodology includes presence in a range of social and digital media activities, and measures value, following and influence to find the top 30–50 international DOLs in an online disease community. We then profile and segment these DOLs to identify groups with an active interest in areas aligned with medical affairs strategy, after which we generate a DOL collaborative engagement plan to develop and disseminate content.

To maximize engagement, we include a DOL steering group as part of the plan to ensure scientific balance,focus on major activities of mutual interest and to ensure long term commitment. This is about collaborating with the right people to generate and share valuable content, and although it is true that digital and social media is a real-time medium, this doesn’t happen overnight.


For more information and the latest data on HCP use of social and digital media, please get in touch cliff.wyatt@hexagonmedcomms.co.uk.





Are your customers’ needs for multichannel communication being met?

At our latest BubbleRoom event, we showcased survey data and insights regarding the use of digital and social media versus other educational channels we collected from interviewing 45 multispecialty physicians from across the world.
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