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The changing face of opinion leaders Pharmafocus October 2006

Just exactly who are the most influential key opinion leaders in your therapeutic field and in your local territory?  This is the central question for marketers scoping a new market, but its an equally essential question for established products, as no healthcare market ever stands still.

In England, perhaps the most notable instance of this is practice-based commissioning (PBC), which, within the next two years or so, should put GPs in the driving seat, completely transforming the potential of these professionals to influence the country's patient services and dictate where money is to be spent.

A diverse range of companies serve the industry in tracking and understanding such dynamics.

Primary Care Key Opinion Leaders

Binley's is a company working in the field and is currently tracking the formation of the new networks or clusters of GPs who are now pioneering practice based commissioning in England.

Binley's John Chater says these GPs and other primary care health professionals involved are a significant new group of key opinion leaders.

"PBC will redirect resources into those services defined by PBC health professionals. This will have a direct bearing on spending, especially in the areas of services provided under payment by results and prescribing."

He adds that the reforms put GPs in the driving seat of service re-allocation: PCTs will retain responsibility for contracting, but GPs will advise on commissioning earmarked services. This could lead to more creative prescribing arrangements and new commissioning boundaries which may cross current PCT areas.

Binley’s is gathering details of PBC groups as they roll-out, but the process is in the early stages, with some PBC clusters not yet having an official address, so knowing the practice details is essential.

PBC will see a significant amount of work and funds shifting into primary care, and could see a shift in the balance of power between GPs and secondary care.

"PBC may have an impact on allocation of payment by results resources, as well as prescribing, which may affect cross-sector provision.

"Influence upon KOLs in secondary care will also be determined by Choose and Book, GPs with a special interest (delivering secondary care services in primary care) and the increasing number of clinics being run from modernised GP premises," says John.

As has always been the case, there is an expectation that lead professionals in both sectors will work more closely together to improve services and deliver efficiencies.

 

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