How to Identify Digital Opinion Leaders in Healthcare

Read Roberts | February 12, 2021

The process for finding influential “Digital Opinion Leaders” (DOLs) relevant to Life Science companies is quite different than the traditional approach to identifying “Key Opinion Leaders” (KOLs). Though there is often overlap, DOLs don’t always show up in places more established researchers might, like Clinical Trials or Congresses. In this article, we'd like to share Remsen Media's methodology used for identifying Online Patient Leaders:

Community Analysis

If someone is a true Digital Opinion Leader, they’re going to be active within online communities specific to the disease area. Finding online communities is usually pretty straightforward. Picture yourself in a patient’s shoes and look online for support groups. Conversely, put yourself in the mindset of a Healthcare Practitioner in a specific area, and look for communities of like-minded physicians. Once the communities are identified, deep dive into each, and see who the most active participants are. Often, support networks have established editorial board/advisor members as well. Remsen Media’s DOL identification methodology starts with this type of community analysis to begin building online expert lists.

Publication Search

Here’s one place which may look familiar to businesses involved in traditional Key Opinion Leader searches. Search PubMed for all articles specific to the disease area of interest, and compile all of the top authors. Then see if any of these top authors have active social media accounts. Remsen Media has developed software to automate this process, but it is possible to do this type of search manually. There is still a gap between top established authors and online leaders with active social media accounts, but overlap does occur more and more regularly. An established KOL with an active and high reaching social presence is sure to make a top DOL list.

Network and Discussion Analysis

Network and Discussion Analysis

At this point, we have a good starting place for our Top DOL List. Some in the list may not make the final cut, and many top online influencers may not yet be identified, but because of the way that social media works, a full network analysis of the starting list will reveal the full picture. Truly effective network analysis is nearly impossible to perform without sophisticated software. Our DOL Dashboard tool takes a starting list of experts and maps connections and influence between experts specializing in the field.

We also pull and evaluate all discussions about scientific research across a variety of platforms – Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, news articles, Reddit, and industry blogs – to gauge impact and find DOLs of interest.

Social Outreach and Verification

So far, our Identification Methodology has been operating in a vacuum, looking at objective data like community participation and followers. The next step involves reaching out and talking to the community. Remsen Media maintains an active social media account, @DolsInHealth, which helps online thought leaders in healthcare to reach their audience. Part of our search process involves reaching out to identified DOLs and asking them their opinion on the most influential DOLs in their mind. Getting buy-in from the audience themselves is key to verifying the list, and when approached the right way, DOLs are more than happy to help.

Data Aggregation and Analysis

Network and Discussion Analysis

Here's the final step in our methodology of building an accurate list of Digital Opinion Leaders for a specific disease area. Our DOL Dashboard tool allows our team to perform a very detailed analysis of the collected experts. Are the identified experts having frequent discussions on the topic of interest, or is the disease just one of many focuses an expert has? How often are they posting? How far does their reach extend beyond their followers? Who is sharing their scientific articles and research?

Remsen Media and DOL Dashboard help make sense of all of the data and build out a truly accurate and informative list of Digital Opinion Leaders for a specific brand.

At Remsen Media, we’ve been aiding our healthcare clients with identifying, profiling, and managing interactions with Key Opinion Leaders for over a decade. Our new service,, helps clients stay on top of what Digital Opinion Leaders are discussing, who they are interacting with, and what level of impact they are having through digital channels like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, industry website, blogs, and news outlets.

Please reach out to us at if you’d be interested in having your own Digital Opinion Leader Dashboard set up.

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