November 20, 2017

I think that I should become an Orthodontic Key Opinion Leader…

I’ve taken my bows and my curtain calls

I am now rapidly approaching full retirement and I need to maintain my income and number of overseas lecturing engagements. Perhaps I should become a Key Opinion Leader?

I have discussed potential changes in my career before. I have thought about becoming a Snake Oil Salesman and decided that this was a step too far. But, should I become a Key Opinion Leader? I have seen them speak and looked at their posts on Facebook and it looks as though they are having a great time. But what do they do?

The definition of a Key Opinion Leader is

“Doctors who influence their peers practice. Including but not limited to their treatment behaviour. They give lectures promoting products and are frequently paid for their time”.

“Key Opinion Leaders are often chosen for their high prescribing habits rather than their knowledge”.

I want fame and fortune and everything that goes with it

I have looked at these definitions and decided that I am not there yet. So what do I need to do to satisfy my ambitions?

First, I need to really get involved with one orthodontic company. I will buy a lot of their products. I will get to know the company representatives and I will offer to do presentations on their products. Hopefully, they will notice me and make me a KOL so that I can sell their products educate people.

I will also need to forget all the science and evidence base that I have learnt (assuming that I learnt this when I was in training). I shall put all this to the back of my mind so that I can promote our product.

When unfavourable research on our product is published, I will ignore it. I may try to criticize the research, but I will find this difficult because I have forgotten my research knowledge.  However, when someone publishes favourable research, I will promote it without any criticism. Even if our company funded it and it is poorly done.

People may challenge me about the research on our product. I will tell them that we are currently working up projects and they will be published soon…..

We are the Champions!

I will appear in slick videos of me being on stage with loud music, flashing lights, and “walls of teeth” with our product. I may even be asked to line up with the other KOLs on stage, so that the delegates can worship at our feet. We will be like an all-conquering sports team. We are “powerhouse” speakers.

I will rock the house…….

When I am asked to speak at orthodontic conferences, I will start talking about the subject that the conference has agreed. However, after about five minutes into my talk, I will change the emphasis and start to talk about our product. Even when it has nothing to do with the presentation. I will be passionate about my new education role and blessed to be honoured as a KOL.

No time for losers

We will post up pictures of my KOL life on social media. I will be sitting in business class seats, dreamily looking at computer screens or sitting on exotic beaches with my KOL chums after a hard day of selling our product and our great company.

Will I sleep at night? Yes, it is only the Snake Oil Salesmen who cannot sleep at night…..

Postscript…Its no bed of roses..

Since I published this I have had several comments suggesting that I am being unfair to most KOLs.  This was not my attention and I simply wanted to draw attention to the practices that I have observed over the last couple of years in a light hearted way.  I am sorry if I have offended anyone.


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Have your say!

  1. Just the simple truth!!! But… do they really care?

  2. ????????nice description

  3. I see this you’re the new “George Orwell” of orthodontics. This is obviously in a good way to protect our profession from snake oil salesmen. And finally this current one reminds me the “Animal Farm”.

  4. Fantastic! So let’s sell our fish !!!

  5. Kevin,
    I enjoy and follow your blog with interest .Thankyou for that .
    I am of a similar age and probably of a similar opinion re KOL,s.
    Having said that –we get it !! No need to continually bash these folks over the head.Their seems to be a societal trend to vituperative ,so -called ,discourse which is mirrored in the orthodontic blogs etc.I follow.
    Two wrongs don’t make a right BUT ,after having experience at five ortho schools ,I doubt if 25% of the staff would be of a caliber that I would feel comfortable referring Pts to.They treated in a very “historical “manner –no efficiency ,no up to date techniques and NO evidence based ,,outcome assessed knowledge,even when this was pointed out ,tactfully ,by residents/ students.
    Pot and kettle come to mind.
    Let’s just move on ,stop the diatribe and talk clinical .
    Thankyou for allowing input.
    PS?my experience is from both sides of the pond,FYI

    • Kevin,

      I agree with Dr. Thompson. I have followed your blog for a long time and enjoy your keen eye. I have learned a great deal from you on how to carefully read a paper. With that said, I do not enjoy your comments on key opinion leaders. While I agree with you in principle, it drags you down to a level you do not need to be. Stay on the high road and you will not get muddied. Good luck with your retirement. I am sure there are ways to continue to give to the orthodontic profession and I hope you will.


    • Two wrongs don’t make a right, but three lefts do.

  6. I was thinking of retiring as an academic but this sounds much more exciting!

  7. Well said!!

  8. Hi Kevin,
    I think, if you master Steve Martin’s technique then I believe you are there!
    As they say, if you cannot beat them just join them.
    Best of luck with your new endeavor.

  9. Some years back at the Boston AAO I went to the AAO lunch featuring Donny Clay. Now he is an opinion leader and motivational guru so ticking all the boxes. Kevin, unfortunately I think Donny has you covered. You may have to stick to EBO after all. I think Donny may have an alternative life as Jason Alexander and George Costanza, but as long as it makes money; as he says – who cares.

  10. Hello Kevin,
    I suggest that you (and your readers who might be interested) go to the ProPublica website and have a look at their investigation called “Dollars for Doctors”.
    If you dig a little into this information you will find the following: “Docs on Pharma Payroll Have Blemished Records, Limited Credentials”.
    Draw your own conclusions on Propublica and their findings on medical opinion leaders.

    Doug Klein

  11. Nothing really matters, nothing really matters to me.

  12. Maybe Ormco can name a bracket after you. As we all know some brackets are magic. Wire bending is for the ancient. Oh yea, I’m 66 and use no preformed wires and still use a 0˚ tip and torque bracket, extract teeth, maintain arch form and do not expand lower canines and do not use permanent retention. Guess I cannot be a KOL.

  13. Hi Kevin,
    I think your honesty and integrity need to go as they would hinder your progression in your new career.
    You have to able to look amazed when a product is unveiled ( even though you saw it first time round 30 years ago!) and I’m not sure how you will look in a bikini?

  14. HAHAHA! Always informative, often cutting edge. You may retire, but please don’t stop blogging!!!

  15. U always leave me amazed by your writings.
    You have put up the views in quite a way!

  16. It is a wonderful words that reach my little heart.
    Really thanks alot Dr.O’Brian………

  17. Dr. Kevin you write brilliantly.

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