As dystopian as it sounds, artificial intelligence (AI) already plays a big role in our daily lives. It’s present and working, even when we don’t realize it. Do you have autocorrect enabled on your phone? Is the little green Grammarly icon floating at the bottom of your screen? Did Gmail recently remind you to include an attachment on the email you were about to send? Welcome to the future.
It doesn’t stop at productivity and computing. AI is slowly seeping into other industries as well, including healthcare. And while it’s scary to think about patients searching for diagnoses through ChatGPT, it may actually be a good tool for us to use to reach them. Here’s why:
It can help create approachable content for patients
When creating patient-focused content, we should avoid flowery, complex prose. Directness is a plus when talking about symptoms and diagnoses. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 79% of internet users skim new web pages they come across. Using direct, plain language helps readers get to the point faster and reduces the need for clarification.
AI tools can help you revise your content so it’s easy to read. Grammarly points out unnecessary words and passive voice—both elements of writing that can make sentences confusing for readers. And tools like Hemingway Editor, which measures your Flesch Reading Ease score and suggests ways to make your content easier to read, can identify passive voice, complex terms and sentences that are too long.
It can help patients communicate better with their doctors
While it’s important to use plain language to improve readability, it does not mean you should be imprecise or “dumb down” medical concepts. Patients should learn key terms from your content to help them understand the concept, engage with the information and take action based on their understanding. In other words, explaining accurate medical terms makes it easier for patients to communicate effectively with their new and existing healthcare providers.
AI tools can suggest alternative terms for medical jargon (like replacing “hypertension” with “high blood pressure”). AI tools can also help you make the content more scannable, direct and conversational depending on your audience.
It can help you write more efficiently
In a world where news moves at lightning speed, AI tools can give you a leg up on creating content that can be published quickly—whether it’s an announcement from the CDC or a health trend that needs debunking. ChatGPT does make a speedy writer.
The caveat: You still need to fact-check everything that gets published. These platforms are designed to learn from existing content and predict what you want to write, but that doesn’t always mean they come up with accurate information. In 2022, a national poll found that 44% of physicians reported half of the information about COVID-19 they saw, read and heard from patients was inaccurate. And with widespread so-called “hallucinations,” generative AI tools are wont to contribute to that misinformation.
How to work with AI in a safe and productive way
Technology is constantly evolving, and we’re all trying to catch up day-to-day. It’s important to stay on top of new developments in AI, but it’s also important to make sure you’re aware of its limitations and dangers.
In terms of privacy, never enter patient data into an AI platform—these platforms are definitely not HIPAA compliant, and legal ramifications for how they store and use data are still developing.
You should fact-check any content that an AI platform generates or edits for you. Some tools, like Perplexity, provide sources for every response given, which can be helpful for efficient fact-checking instead of turning to Google.
Generative AI tools are just that—tools. They’re not going to replace human writers anytime soon. These tools don’t have original thoughts or opinions, they can be dangerously inaccurate and they can be prone to plagiarism if you’re not careful. But they are helpful for a myriad of reasons, and they can make it easier to connect with our patient populations and communities.
The adage “prevention is better than cure” is an indisputable and timeless truth. By prioritizing regular check-ups, screenings and healthy lifestyle practices, patients can detect and address health concerns at an early stage, often preventing more serious conditions.
The key lies not only in endorsing preventive care but also in effectively communicating its importance. Promoting preventive care is an investment in long-term health outcomes, which is something trusted healthcare entities know and embrace. Mayo Clinic’s Healthy Living Program is a great example, as it empowers people to adopt healthier lifestyles through personalized plans, which showcases the organization’s commitment to holistic well-being.
Demonstrating a dedication to preventive care also goes a long way toward building the big “T”—trust—and enhancing your organization’s reputation. This is crucial when it comes to cultivating and maintaining lasting patient relationships.
Before we get into the nitty gritty, a disclaimer: To reap these rewards, you need to get strategic first. That means assessing your current services and capabilities, defining your short- and long-term objectives, identifying target audiences and much more. Don’t put the cart before the horse by diving straight into tactics—firing up that TikTok account or paid social campaign can wait until you’ve done the hard (but necessary) work of establishing your strategy.
Showcasing preventive care services can take you down many different paths, and finding the right marketing mix often involves a bit of trial and error. After you lay the strategic groundwork, consider these methods and how they might help your organization achieve its goals.
Get creative with content marketing
Crafting informative and engaging content that digs into specific preventive care services, such as screenings, vaccinations, routine check-ups and chronic disease management programs, allows organizations to address their audience’s health concerns directly and proactively.
Try this: Create detailed blog posts or video content on the step-by-step process of preventive screenings, and publish them alongside success stories, patient testimonials or infographics. This not only educates but also alleviates potential apprehensions about a particular screening or procedure.
Leveraging SEO tactics to optimize content can, to an extent, ensure that valuable information reaches a wider audience actively seeking preventive care insights. Just be sure not to rely too heavily on keywords, opting instead for an organic approach to content creation that authentically addresses patient concerns, needs and desires.
Meet patients where they are: social media
Some healthcare organizations shy away from social media, but to get your content in front of patients, you need to be present on the platforms they frequent. Nearly 90% of all adults in the U.S. search for health information on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media sites.
Crafting visually engaging social media content is important, and can take the form of bite-sized tips, graphics, animations and patient testimonials. Using platforms like Twitter and Instagram allows organizations to share concise preventive care messages that resonate with a wide-ranging audience.
Try this: Host live Q&A sessions or webinars on platforms such as Facebook or YouTube to make the most of these interactive forums and address common health concerns, disseminate relevant information, answer specific patient concerns and more.
Collaborations with influencers or healthcare professionals can amplify the reach and credibility of preventive care messages. Encouraging audience participation through challenges, polls or sharing personal stories also fosters community engagement.
Find your way to your patients’ inboxes
Email marketing, specifically drip campaigns, allow for a strategic and gradual release of content, guiding recipients through a series of emails that reinforce the importance of preventive services. These campaigns can include educational materials, success stories and tips on maintaining overall well-being.
Try this: Start with a series of four to seven emails that present information in a variety of different formats. For example, after a brief introductory message, you can send a follow-up email containing patient success stories and testimonials that humanize the preventive care process. Subsequent messages could include interactive content and resources (videos, quizzes, downloadable guides), or personalized emails from one of your physicians where they discuss preventive procedures, address common concerns and offer guidance on what patients can expect during appointments.
Digital advertising offers healthcare organizations a targeted approach to promote preventive care services effectively. For example, organizations can design ads emphasizing the importance of regular check-ups and preventive screenings across various digital platforms.
Try this: Use demographic data to target patients and ensure you reach the intended audience, tailoring the message to specific age groups, locations or health demographics. Implement compelling calls-to-action in your ads, such as scheduling appointments or accessing educational resources, to enhance user engagement.
Continuously monitoring and refining ad performance based on analytics can contribute to the effectiveness of the campaign. By strategically placing these digital ads, you can raise awareness and drive individuals to take action toward preventive care.
By embracing content marketing, social media, email marketing and digital channels, healthcare organizations can effectively disseminate valuable information, encourage preventive measures and strengthen patient engagement. Just like any other activity, promoting care isn’t just about marketing services—it’s about empowering people to take control of their health, one proactive step at a time.