AI writing tools are rapidly changing the field of medical writing, and AI-generated medical content is exciting!
If you’ve been experimenting with AI-driven medical writing, you will appreciate these tools’ potential for medical writers in enhancing healthcare communication and boosting productivity.
We need to understand and navigate the ethical issues to use AI writing tools responsibly and produce trustworthy, patient-centric AI-generated medical content.
Here are three ethical considerations as you start playing around with these tools.
1. AI-generated medical content may not always be accurate, reliable or transparent
AI algorithms rely on vast amounts of data for training, but the quality of that data can influence the accuracy of the generated content.
Think of generating AI content like performing a Google search and relying on the first website that appears in the search without verifying the accuracy of the information.
AI-generated medical content does not usually explain how it arrived at its results. This lack of transparency can be problematic in medical writing, where your readers need to understand the reasoning behind a health claim, recommendation or prediction.
How can we navigate this? We need to ensure that our AI prompts (the instructions we give to the AI writing tool) include instructions to incorporate reliable and validated sources of information: for example, peer-reviewed journals, trustworthy medical databases like PubMed, MEDLINE and the Cochrane Library, and reputable medical websites.
You can also ask the AI writing tool to include references and choose which claims you use in your content based on the output.
2. AI-generated medical content can contain bias and lack diversity
AI-generated medical content naturally contains biases (as it is generated from human content, which naturally contains biases!).
Relying on AI-generated medical content that contains biases could misrepresent populations, skew results or lead to errors.
Also, bias may lead to inaccurate healthcare outcomes and exacerbate health disparities when results from these biased algorithms are applied to different types of health communication, like articles, blogs, guidelines, social media posts and anything containing health advice.
AI-generated medical content may underrepresent or misrepresent certain patient groups, as it can be based on data that underrepresents or misrepresents certain patient groups.
So, we need to be aware of the potential for biases and disparities in AI-generated medical content and actively work to reduce these, especially when drawing conclusions from the content.
3. AI-generated medical content may not incorporate specific language requirements
In health writing, the language we choose can have profound consequences.
There are plenty of nuances. Health writing is a complex field with many subtle distinctions, intricacies and details that need to be considered and understood.
In health communication, we generally avoid the use of the word ‘suffer’, avoid battle language in cancer communication and use person-centred language in some situations (but not all).
If you’re writing about specific health topics, there may be particular guidelines. Mindframe has mental health communication guidelines, for example, and the UN have disability-inclusivity communication guidelines.
AI-generated medical content may not be able to incorporate the rules in these guidelines unless you instruct it to. Even then, you would need to verify that the content was accurate and appropriate.
You will need to check and edit the content to suit your unique needs and the best practices of health communication.
The final word
While AI writing tools automate certain aspects of medical writing and make our lives a bit easier, we can’t rely on them entirely. Your oversight and collaboration with others remain crucial!
You’ll always need to review and validate AI-generated content to ensure it is accurate, appropriate, compliant and adherent to our professional standards.
By combining your expertise as a medical writer with the efficiency of AI writing tools, you can achieve the right balance and embrace this new technology.
Want to learn more about AI and medical writing?
My new course, Introduction to Medical Writing and Artificial Intelligence, will introduce you to the world of AI-generated medical content and help you learn about the career opportunities, challenges, risks and limitations in this new era of medical writing. You’ll also learn how to leverage the capabilities of ChatGPT and other advanced language models responsibly and accurately. Learn more about the course and join the waiting list here!