Updated May 2023

Thanks to artificial intelligence (AI), we hardly lift a finger to accomplish daily tasks. Facial recognition unlocks our phones. TV streaming services tell us what to watch. Bluetooth-enabled toasters can even make us the perfect piece of toast on demand. Wouldn’t it be great if we could complete work tasks with the same minimal effort?

Creating digital healthcare marketing content is a time- and resource-intensive process. Why not use AI tools like ChatGPT to speed it along? If AI can connect us with binge-worthy TV, surely it can write content that converts, right?

Not quite. Although AI writers have come a long way, they are far from a substitute for humans.

What Is an AI Content Writer?

AI writers create a broad range of digital marketing assets. You can use AI to write search-optimized meta titles, blog posts, emails, web pages and more. Its capabilities cover marketers across all industries.

How it works:

  1. Users plug in a few parameters, like a topic, some starter sentences and keywords.
  2. Machine learning takes over, combing billions of web pages for bites of content matching the criteria.
  3. It shuffles words around, applies natural language processing (to mimic the way humans talk) and fuses it, creating “new” content.

But shuffling words around means that it’s derivative content. And while it’s supposed to be original, it’s possible an online plagiarism checker would flag duplicate content. Plus, it can’t hold a candle to from-scratch, actionable content you’d get from a human writer.

To Be Fair, AI Writers Have a Few Benefits

We can’t completely discredit AI because it can enhance human writers’ work. If you’ve ever used a keyword research tool, grammar checker or sentence autocomplete feature, you’re using AI.

Writing tools powered by AI make quick work of polishing a human writer’s work. They improve clarity, optimize content for search and maintain specific reading levels.

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There Are Many Drawbacks

But giving algorithms and applications free rein to do the work of human writers comes with consequences. Healthcare content is a nut that machine learning and natural language processing can’t crack.

Here’s why:

Machines and computer programs don’t have empathy

People seeking online health information are not feeling well and are anxious about what their symptoms mean. They want content that’s empathetic.

Giving algorithms & applications free rein to do the work of human writers comes with consequences. Click To Tweet

Let’s say your newborn has a congenital anomaly. It’s natural to be overwhelmed. You’re worried about what the diagnosis means for your child’s future. You turn to the internet because the specialist appointment is three weeks away, and you want answers pronto.

AI writers cannot relate to these needs. They provide readily available information about the condition, such as treatment options. AI can’t anticipate the questions parents desperately want answered or explain what to expect during an office visit. They can’t write in a warm, reassuring tone that can help calm a panicked parent.

AI can’t anticipate the questions parents desperately want answered or explain what to expect during an office visit. #artificialintelligence #contentwriting Click To Tweet

Medical Writer Turned Patient: Tips on Empathy in Content

AI writers are incapable of following style guides

If you want content reflecting your brand’s unique writing style, fuggedaboutit. Artificial intelligence isn’t intelligent enough to always (or never) use certain words or follow AP style.

Human writers remember to fully write out your brand name on first reference, add extra empathy to maternity content and always use sentence case in headers. AI writers cannot accomplish this. They also don’t know how to maintain a consistent voice and tone across different types of content.

10 Essential Elements of a Style Guide [EXAMPLES]

AI can’t help you write about emerging and sensitive health topics

AI writers rely on existing content (usually predating 2022) to create output. But with emerging health topics, sometimes there are slim pickings. When COVID-19 was surging, it raised topics such as vaccine education and social distancing that marketers never had to consider. It took a few trailblazers (including Aha Media) and lots of ingenuity to answer the call for new content.

AI writers rely on existing content to create output. But with emerging health topics, sometimes there are slim pickings. #artificialintelligence #contentwriting Click To Tweet

AI is also not likely to appreciate the nuances of communicating sensitive topics, such as palliative and end-of-life care. LGBTQ+ health services is another topic with many nuances, such as inclusive language. Publishing tone-deaf content for these audiences will likely turn away prospective patients instead of welcoming them.

Writing About Difficult Healthcare Topics

AI-generated content still requires human hands

Even if you go ahead with an AI writer and find the savviest one available, the output is likely not usable right out of the chute. A human will need to review it, addressing aspects of the content that are beyond AI’s capabilities.

And these things take time. Checking for awkward phrases. Breaking up long sentences. Formatting content so that it’s easy to read. (For example, an AI writer doesn’t know when to use bulleted lists). And above all, only a human can make sure the final product meets the objective you set out to accomplish.

The Art of Revising: Editing Pro Tips

AI writers are a no-no according to Google

Google views content from AI writers as auto-generated and a violation of its Webmaster Guidelines. Penalties include removing the offending content from their index, making it nearly impossible for your audience to find.

Did you know that Google views content from AI writers as auto-generated & a violation of its Webmaster Guidelines? #contentwriting Click To Tweet

However, Google isn’t currently savvy enough to detect auto-generated content. A human reviewer would need to find and remove it. So, the chances of getting caught are pretty slim, for now. (Not that we recommend risking it.)

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The Bottom Line

AI can help human writers optimize digital health marketing content. But human writers are still pulling most of the weight.

Health decisions, like where to seek care, are among the most important ones we make. Successful content conveys empathy, builds trust and helps people feel hopeful. AI writers are not capable of any of this. So if you have good, strong (human) writers, don’t let them go! And if you need good, strong writers, we can help.


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