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AI Medical Writing: Automated and Intelligent or Abysmally Inaccurate?

For now, leave plastic surgery content to medical writers or mechanical Turks.*

ai-plastic-surgery-writing

Twenty-one years after the debut of the da Vinci Surgical System, artificial intelligence is making an entrance into the realm of consumer medical copywriting.

The da Vinci is accuracy.

Artificial intelligence, however, is automation.

And the two are diametrically different.


The Mechanical Turk was a “master chess machine” built by Wolfgang von Kempelen in 1770.

“It” beat both Benjamin Franklin and Napoleon, and won most of the chess games it played for more than 80 years but was eventually exposed for what it was: A mechanical contraption that allowed a master chess player—a human—to hide within it.


Speed at the Expense of Accuracy

If practicing plastic surgeons already outsource some of their content needs to medical copywriters or marketing agencies, should artificial intelligence be used to do it instead?

No, not for the moment at least.

According to AI, the results of Botox are permanent (they aren’t), ICL surgery isn’t performed on patients over age 40 (it is: the Visian ICL is indicated for use in adults through 45, with some surgeons suggesting the procedure is an option for patients up to 50), and a transconjunctival and transcutaneous blepharoplasty are the same procedure (they aren’t.)

Some of the more blatant problems with AI content writing for plastic surgery websites can be seen above. Written by a live human, the text above includes links to sources where claims can be verified. And while most plastic surgery procedure pages include few if any external links, to date they have at least been written by humans.

It’s AI’s ability to get things wrong even faster and without memory or oversight that presents major problems.

Where a live human being—and particularly one who isn’t a doctor—can certainly get things wrong, it’s AI’s ability to get things wrong even faster and without memory or oversight that presents major problems.

In a vast majority of cases, it is easier to write it right the first time than it is to double-check the details of an article for accuracy after the fact.

Just as you, writer, begin to believe you’ve learned something new about a technique or procedure, it turns out that in roughly 75% of cases, that new news is in fact inaccurate. The system is confusing two procedures or is inventing something entirely. 

The results, for the most part, are impressively coherent. The problem, however, is that they are often inaccurate. 

Give an AI copywriting tool a question to answer or a series of headlines and subheadings to flesh out into a complete article and it seamlessly returns anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand words.

Bravo, you’re onto something.

But delete that first AI return and ask it again for another.

The results have changed entirely.

Not only are there now new words on the page, but the words reach an entirely different conclusion. AI, likely thinking you disliked some part of its previous results, scours after and returns to you the other side of Google. 

What side of Google are you on?

We are good, but not great, at analyzing the world’s information. Ask Google two contradictory questions and this becomes apparent. Sufficient data appears to exist to support most claims—even directly contradictory ones.

  • Google: “Does coffee prevent blindness?”
  • Result: “Now, new research finds that drinking the beverage may protect against deteriorating eyesight and even blindness.”
  • Google: Does coffee cause blindness?”
  • Answer: “According to a new study, drinking more than three cups of coffee per day has been shown to correlate with an increased risk of developing glaucoma, which can lead to vision loss or blindness.” 

So which is true? The truth is somewhere in between. The truth requires a more nuanced and discerning look at the information than is currently possible with artificial intelligence.

“While it seems very unlikely that AI will completely overtake the job of MWs [medical writers], it is likely that MWs who embrace AI will overtake those who do not.”

Nikolaos Parisis, Medical Copywriter at McCann Health Paris, in “Medical Writing In The Era Of Artificial Intelligence,” December 2019, Medical Writing | Volume 28 Number 4

Letting AI Speak for Itself

That said, let us let artificial intelligence answer: Should it be used to write plastic surgery content? And, please note, that I’ve chosen this article over other more technical articles as this one is coherent.

User-Generated Title:

“Should You Use Artificial Intelligence to Write Your Plastic Surgery Website or Blogs?”

User-Generated Article Description:

“AI copywriting software has made its grand entrance into the blogosphere. Plastic surgeons, being the highly skilled and in-demand medical professionals they are, already outsource some of their content needs to freelance writers and marketing agencies. But should artificial intelligence be used to do it instead? What are the pros and cons?”


Article Generated by Artificial Intelligence:

The recent advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) are revolutionizing the way we do things. We use it to make driverless cars, control our lighting and house appliances, and even help us find the best prices online. It seems like there’s almost nothing AI can’t do these days. So why not ask AI to write your plastic surgery blog or website content?

Last year, I was in a gathering of surgeons and marketing experts discussing the latest technology news. A few people were talking about how AI is becoming more popular by the day, and it’s only a matter of time before we fully embrace its potentials—especially for medical content writing. It sparked my interest, so I decided to look into it further. The more I learned about this topic, the more intrigued I became.

[The meeting mentioned above never took place.]

What Is Artificial Intelligence?

AI is a computer system designed to replicate human behavior through machine learning, which is a form of artificial intelligence that creates algorithms based on large data sets. It makes computers capable of doing things that normally require human intelligence such as visual perception, speech recognition, and decision-making.

AI content writing has been in use for many years now. Many of our daily interactions with technology is through AI assistants like Siri or Alexa. Businesses are using AI chatbots to greet customers, book appointments, or even check out their orders. Internet search engine companies hire AI writers to help produce simple articles about certain topics, such as recent news events.

There are instances when AI can be a useful tool to help you with your writing needs without the need for human intervention.

[Our month-long test indicates human intervention is definitely required. In select cases the output is entirely unusable.]

If your website or blog is a one-person show and all of the content it produces are based on simple facts that require no analysis, then having an AI writer may be a viable option for you.

[Medical content is not “based on simple facts that require no analysis.”]

If your business is writing simple content like what the doctor wrote, then AI may be the perfect tool for you. It would cut down on time spent doing mundane tasks such as writing blog posts that are search engine optimized (SEO), and by extension, increasing your productivity. In fact, one study shows that up to 40% of medical business owners say they don’t have the time or skills to write their medical content. That’s where AI can come in handy.

[The study mentioned above doesn’t appear to exist.]

The Pros and Cons of Using Artificial Intelligence for Content Writing

There are obvious advantages and disadvantages when using AI writing services for your plastic surgery blog or website. At this point, there are no concrete studies to support whether using AI for content writing is good or bad, but there’s no doubt that it can be a viable option. Here are some of the pros and cons of using AI for such purposes:

Pros:

  • AI-written content would probably help you rank better on search engines like Google and Bing since it uses data to create content that is more relevant and interesting to readers. In addition, the use of AI can help you save time since it can generate thousands of articles in just a matter of hours. You’ll have more time to focus on other important tasks like marketing your business or providing medical services for your patients.
  • AI has the capability to understand how readers respond to content based on the number of clicks, shares, and other engagement metrics. This will allow you to determine what type of content works best for your readers.
  • AI can easily come up with topics that target keywords like “what is liposuction cost?” It’s not a secret that most businesses that use medical procedures as their main selling point tend to have more online success since they’re able to drive traffic from search engines.

[The closing sentence above is logically challenged.]

  • AI-written content is capable of producing the same results as a medical professional, but it’s just faster and more cost-effective. You don’t need to pay an extra employee or hire a freelancer because you can get the same result with AI software at a lower cost.

[This quality claim is directly contradicted below.]

Cons:

  • Although AI is constantly improving, it still has a long way to go before it can match the quality of writing created by professional medical writers and content marketers. In fact, some claim that their quality is comparable with an amateur blogger who just wants to establish himself in his niche. One expert claims that 80% of medical AI content is nothing more than a template that can be filled with the right keywords and relevant links in order to generate traffic.

[The mentioned expert doesn’t exist and this was never stated. Or was it? There’s no telling, but 15 minutes of searching online draw a blank.]

  • Unfortunately, there’s no way for readers to know if they’re reading an article that was written by AI or a medical professional since both are capable of generating professionally written blogs and articles.

[Look for run-on sentences and drawn-out arguments that don’t reach conclusions quickly. There is typically also a blatant disconnect between various points made within an AI-generated article.]

  • While most writers don’t have a problem with AI, some of them may feel threatened by its capabilities.
  • If clients find out that you’re using AI to write articles for your website, they might get the wrong impression that you’re trying to pass it off as professional content and not having the ability to do so on your own. There’s also no telling what results you can get if you use AI for your medical content without hiring a professional writer who understands the intricacies of medical writing.

In the end, there are pros and cons when using AI for content writing. There may not be any concrete proof that it’s good or bad yet, but you can’t deny that software like this is an interesting development in our society.

What do you think?

Are we ready to make use of artificial intelligence to create medical blog posts and articles?”

[End of AI-generated article. The subheadings in the AI-generated portion of this article were written by a human.]


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