Product Adoption Process

The Key Opinion Leader’s Role:  In the Product Adoption Process and Usage of New Technology

Traditional thinking in regards to Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) has been focused solely on their product adoption process.  That is, in adopting a new innovation (for example, a new service, a new medical device or a new drug), most people think that when a Key Opinion Leader influences another physician to become a new prescriber or new user … this is seen to be occurring by simple imitation.

The theories state that when the ‘unit of adoption’ is the individual … namely, when a Key Opinion Leader influences another individual physician … this ‘diffusion of innovation‘ is seen to be occurring by simple imitation.  So, the KOL starts to use the new product and others copy the behavior of the opinion leader … sort of like ‘follow the leader’!

However, this simple, linear thinking does not take into account the much broader context in which physicians practice medicine, that is, the health care system and/or the hospital environment.

Within the complexities of our current healthcare systems, we are now talking about process-based innovations, rather than strictly product-based innovations — to better meet the needs of these large and complex service organizations!

In the hospital or health care system (e.g., Regional Health Authority, HMO) … the team, department or organization must often assimilate the new product, and the new processes, into the environment – and this can often require various changes in the structure or ways of working — between and within departments.

Therefore, the change almost invariably requires a formal decision-making process, an evaluation phase or phases, along with planned and sustained efforts at implementation.

Consequently, these varying phases of the product adoption process require that the Key Opinion Leader take on various roles in the organization, to be able to facilitate the adoption of the new technology.

However, once we break down these roles, we see that it is actually quite difficult to imagine that ‘one person’ could fill all of these roles …

Consequently, your Key Opinion Leader strategies must be stronger in identifying ‘who’ will fill EACH of these roles.  In the path along the product adoption process … and the adoption of an innovation … it may not be a physician leader … it could be a pharmacist leader, a nurse leader, or some other individual … each one participating at various stages throughout the entire service or product adoption process.

In the landmark book published in 2005, “Diffusion of Innovations in Health Service Organisations” by Trisha Greenhalgh, et al, they outline the different Champion Roles for organizational innovation for Key Opinion Leaders in health care:

  1. Organizational Maverick: Provides the innovators with autonomy from the rules, procedures and systems of the organization so they can establish creative solutions to existing problems
  2. Transformational Leader: Harnesses support from other members of the organization
  3. Organizational Buffer: Creates a loose monitoring system to ensure that innovators make proper use of organizational resources, while still allowing them to act creatively
  4. Network Facilitator: Defends by developing cross-functional coalitions within the organization

“An organization is more likely to adopt an innovation if individuals who have significant social ties both within and outside the organization, and who are able and willing to link the organization to the outside world in relation to this particular innovation, can be identified.”

At Health Connexions, we can help you identify whether or not particular organizations or departments promote and support the development and execution of boundary-spanning roles, and which KOLs are ‘hard-wired’ for this activity …

The right individual KOL, situated within a forward-thinking organization, means that both the KOL and the organization will more likely become aware of, and assimilate, innovations quickly.

Health Connexions’ Key Opinion Leader Division specializes in helping organizations address their issues and opportunities with regards to Key Opinion Leaders.

In your field of medicine or disease area, as you develop your strategies to make changes or implement healthcare solutions, new products or services, it is important to think about these issues and determine, in your sector of healthcare, “What is the Key Opinion Leader’s Role:  In the Product Adoption Process and Usage of New Technology?”

We trust this has given you a few things to consider and we look forward to getting your thoughts on What is the Key Opinion Leader’s Role in the Product Adoption Process? ….

Please CLICK the BLOG ICON to add a comment to our blog related to the above information.  Share some of your own, personal thoughts on ‘mistakes’ to avoid or ‘lessons learned’.

Our goal is to provide healthcare solutions and ideas that will work in this changing healthcare environment!

© 2011 Health Connexions™. All Rights Reserved.





How We Can Help You Succeed in a Changing Healthcare Environment…

Health Connexions™ specializes in helping organizations address their issues and opportunities related to Key Opinion Leaders and Organizational Change.

Whether it is market research, strategic planning, program development or better understanding of the Key Opinion Leader interaction within an organization or health system, we are here to help you navigate the changing healthcare environment.

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In healthcare, there are few Market Research Companies like Health Connexions.  We service Life Sciences companies, Health Care institutions and the Government to study every stakeholder … from physicians to patients to employers.

We have advanced methods in Social Media Market Research, as well as Qualitative and Quantitative Research, supported by Secondary Research and Data Analytics.

Health Connexions™ is a Gold Seal Certified Research Agency of the MRIA (Marketing Research and Intelligence Association) – Audited by Deloitte Touche.  Gold Seal Certification is provided by MRIA to develop and deliver world-class professional market research standards and ensure member compliance.


The KOL Publication Profile™ has helped us clearly identify the physicians who are in our therapeutic area — and it lets us see who is the best choice for our Advisory Panels.  It’s been very helpful over the last three years.”

— DS – Medical Affairs and Continuing Medical Education Manager, Large,
multi-national pharmaceutical company


Dawn Van Dam
President & CEO
Health Connexions
1-877-822-7376 ext. 101

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