Have you ever wanted to know which healthcare professionals are leading online peer-to-peer discussions around diabetes?

Identifying which healthcare professionals (HCPs) are influential in online discussions is a complex process. Firstly, you need to isolate the voice of the HCPs from all other conversation taking place online in your chosen therapy area (in this case, diabetes) and geographic location. Then you need to identify which HCPs are respected and trusted by their peers and making valuable contributions to the online discussion. At CREATION we have developed 7 Metrics to identify digital opinion leaders (DOLs).

In a CREATION public study of UK HCP conversation around diabetes (1st November 2015 to 31st October 2016) we identified a number of DOLs including Partha Kar, a consultant endocrinologist from Portsmouth.

Partha Kar’s social media metrics:

As you can see, Partha Kar contributes significantly to online discussion via LinkedIn, Twitter, Research Gate and blog posts (he mentions/shares diabetes related content 3035 times during the study period). It is not just the amount of conversation which makes him a DOL, but the fact that he engages with both his peers (1876 of his 7094 followers are fellow HCPs) and leading diabetes organisations like Diabetes UK and the World Health Organisation.  

So, once you have identified your digital opinion leaders, what next?

Key topics discussed by Partha Kar during the study period. Size indicates volume.

Understanding which topics are important to your HCP DOL and learning about their particular needs and concerns will help you to better engage with them and provide resources they will find useful. Some of the topics of particular interest to Pathar Kar include; increasing awareness of Type 1 Diabetes, educating peers and pressures on the NHS.

In addition to this it is also useful to know which hashtags DOLs are using to engage with each other online. If you were looking to share content online using Twitter then tweeting resources using these hashtags would increase the chances of it being seen by those key HCPs.

Hastags used by Partha Kar.

Healthcare professional digital opinion leader peer network map

Network map showing the top 25 HCPs Partha Kar engages with.

Our research among HCP conversation uncovers a “flattened” hierarchy when examining online relationships vs. off line relationships. Online, healthcare professionals engage with a range of roles, which would not necessarily happen in the same way in a traditional hospital setting. Senior roles engage those with less experience and from roles they may not often cross paths with offline. Mapping out your HCP DOLs’ peer network allows you to see which roles they are connecting with and influencing. Here we note that Partha Kar engages online with a variety of roles including nurses, psychologists, nutritionists, GPs and paediatricians.

If you have designed resources specifically to assist a certain role group, for example nutritionists, then it may be useful to identify HCPs who are influential among that role type and can potentially help you share your content with them.

Many of our clients in pharmaceutical and healthcare organisations find identifying their healthcare professional digital opinion leaders provides them with insights into customer needs,  which ultimately help them to create better resources and engage more meaningfully with HCPs.

Do you want to learn more about our study into how HCPs discuss diabetes online? Sign up to download the full study.

Do you want to learn more about identifying which HCPs are your digital opinion leaders? Sign up to our free pharma webinar.