“The ultimate win for PR pros is how AI will transform our workflow.”
What It Means for You – 5-minute read
You are not a Luddite.
You’re in healthcare, after all, so introducing new technologies is part of your job. You’ve been explaining the wonderous value of tech advancements since you started, cajoling your physicians to adopt the new software or selling the latest machine to your patients.
But now, the next big tech upgrade has walked into your own office, plopped down on your desk and is waving hello. With a smirk. It’s the AI-driven chatbot settling into your laptop with the skills to write a solid first draft of marketing copy, a speech and press releases in three seconds.
The hyper-hyped ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence program that can take straightforward direction (“write a press release announcing our new CEO”) and produce relatively complex, traditionally structured, human-language answers in myriad styles. And in a hurry.
The tool was developed by OpenAI and has been the darling of media for the last few months. Its brethren are on the way. Google’s chatbot Bard had a rocky public debut this week when the “new artificial intelligence technology produced a factual error in its first demo,” while Microsoft is deploying a new version of its search engine Bing built on OpenAI’s tech.
If you haven’t asked ChatGPT to draft some copy for you, do. We gave it a shot with a few healthcare marketing and communications prompts this week. You can see the results for yourself at the bottom of this post.
Among many important things, these bots are powerful, disruptive communications engines and, yet, merely the Model T of their kind or, as the New Yorker put it, “a blurry JPEG of the web.”
An encounter with ChatGPT easily prompts the question: Is this an exciting new tool that will supplement, even enrich and expand the work of communicators…or is it an existential threat to your job and, you know, humanity?
Well, yes. Like other new technologies, it is what we allow it to become.
Our collective work is to be smart and mindful about the tool, the application of its great strengths, its limitations and its considerable risks.
First thoughts on the bots:
A communicator’s accelerant. It’s important to know how the bots work, at least with today’s technology. The press release or web copy these engines produce is not “language” grounded in the bot’s consideration of your assignment or its modeling of the world. After all, it doesn’t know what a hospital is.
Instead, the responses are a pastiche of words and phrases following structures handcrafted by humans that the algorithm smartly isolates, cuts and then quilts together into a simulation of language.
As such, it’s no surprise the output sounds like human language. Generic, but it ain’t bad.
Knowing this, these bots – even in their infancy – can spit out first drafts of copy that can be helpful time savers, thought starters and did-you-think-about-this for communicators. The mental energy invested in churning out initial copy can be spent instead in consideration of the broader message, your goals and audiences.
One risk: Vanilla language that essentially reorganizes existing copy into something that’s just good enough isn’t good copy. It’s washed of the critical, distinctive reflection of your organization’s voice, your audience’s needs and your goals. Your edge is lost and instead becomes a bland word salad. Generic copy written – by human or computer – to connect with everyone will connect with no one.
A computer conversation. “Chatting” with a chatbot can feel like a conversation with another human. Sort of. A patient searching for a treatment using AI-enabled search engine may find a helpful and simplified conversational answer to their question, instead of three pages of Google links to explore.
Keep in mind though, this type of search may reduce the presented options and limit the information shared. That can falsely leave the impression that there’s been thoughtful discernment in the answers – that there’s a human-like mind on the other side of the screen.
The art of language. In these Sunday notes we regularly honor the tension between the art and science of communications, recognizing that persuasive messages that compel real change demand expert use of both disciplines. Art and science, hearts and minds.
Algorithms can’t sit at a table late into the night working through dozens of rounds of edits with an executive team on a crucial memo. Bots won’t navigate a diverse group’s preferences and thread the needle on conflicting or ambiguous feedback.
AI can generate an ad, but how persuasive is that by itself? A personal recommendation for a doctor will always outweigh an ad, regardless of who wrote it.
So when you use AI to save time (and, yes, you probably will soon), use that saved time to convey the nuance that renders communication effective and persuasive. Use the time to work at the top of your communicator’s license.
Remember, too, that language itself is only one ingredient in the rich stew that makes up true and effective communication. Who delivers the words? When are they delivered? How are they delivered? Pictures and behaviors are communications, too.
Healthcare workers prefer one-on-one interactions with managers and teams to receive information. So do your patients. The rise of bot-generated language will emphasize for us again the great value of the human touch.
Seeds of mistrust. The epidemic of cultural mistrust in all institutions has infected the healthcare industry and weakens it. The antidote in part is authenticity, transparency and human interaction. And it’s all hard work.
A few weeks ago, we pointed to an example of corporate-speak created by actual humans that landed poorly. How much worse will it be when people find out your “carefully parsed messages and incomplete information that seem designed to deflect accountability” weren’t even written by people?
What’s more, the bots are just as good at spitting out misinformation as information, and faster than any human troublemakers. Chatbot Bard got facts wrong during its launch. The development teams will work to limit that risk, but we’re talking about a tool that writes words, not vets them.
Used poorly, the bots will deepen the distrust. How do you prove you’re you instead of a machine with your voice? A tired, wary public will feel that it’s always safer to mistrust.
Closing thoughts – for now. Friends, we’re at the cusp of an important change.
The question isn’t whether AI bots will become pervasive communication tools. They will. It’s whether these will be weapons or tools in our hands.
Digital tech can be great. Again, not Luddites. The efficiency of digital communication has extraordinary value. Who doesn’t read a newspaper on the internet or enjoy a book on their Kindle on occasion?
Streams of digital communication cannot replace the value, the essential nature and emotional connection of the analog world, where you and I live, get sick and become hungry for healing hands.
Get smart on the tech. Invest yourself in learning its value and its foibles. Track it over time and consider how it’s being used – just as you did when Twitter showed up 17 years ago.
More to come. That we humans will write about. While we can.
Image credit: Shannon Threadgill
What ChatGPT Told Us
“New Hope for Orthopedic Care – Regional Memorial Hospital Launches its Orthopedic Surgery Group!”
Regional Memorial Hospital is proud to announce the launch of its new Orthopedic Surgery Group, providing expert and comprehensive care to patients with a range of orthopedic conditions. Our team of highly-skilled and experienced orthopedic surgeons use the latest techniques and technology to diagnose, treat, and manage a wide range of conditions, including joint replacements, fractures, spinal disorders, and sports injuries.
“Say goodbye to pain and hello to a new, active life! Our goal is to provide exceptional care and a positive patient experience, from diagnosis through recovery, with a focus on returning our patients to their active and pain-free lives as quickly as possible,” said Dr. [Name], Chief of Orthopedic Surgery.
We offer a full range of services, including preoperative evaluation, surgical intervention, and postoperative rehabilitation, all designed to provide the highest level of care to our patients. Schedule an appointment today and experience the difference at Regional Memorial Hospital.
“Get Back in the Game – Choose Regional Memorial Hospital’s Orthopedic Surgery Group for Expert Care!”
Write a press release announcing the launch of Regional Memorial Hospital's new orthopedic surgery group
Regional Memorial Hospital is proud to announce the launch of its new Orthopedic Surgery Group, providing expert and comprehensive care to patients with a range of orthopedic conditions.
This new group is comprised of highly-skilled and experienced orthopedic surgeons who use the latest techniques and technology to diagnose, treat, and manage a wide range of conditions affecting the musculoskeletal system, including joint replacements, fractures, spinal disorders, and sports injuries.
“We are thrilled to be able to offer our patients a team of highly-skilled orthopedic specialists right here at Regional Memorial Hospital,” said Dr. [Name], Chief of Orthopedic Surgery. “Our goal is to provide exceptional care and a positive patient experience, from diagnosis through recovery, with a focus on returning our patients to their active and pain-free lives as quickly as possible.”
Regional Memorial Hospital’s new Orthopedic Surgery Group offers a full range of services, including preoperative evaluation, surgical intervention, and postoperative rehabilitation, all designed to provide the highest level of care to our patients.
The hospital is committed to providing its patients with the highest quality of care and the new Orthopedic Surgery Group is a testament to that commitment. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call [phone number].
“Attention all cancer patients and families: A new hope has arrived! We are proud to announce the launch of our state-of-the-art Cancer Center. Our highly trained medical professionals, cutting-edge technology, and commitment to patient-centered care, make us the premier destination for cancer treatment. From diagnosis to recovery, we are with you every step of the way. Book your appointment today and join us on the journey to beating cancer. #CancerCenterLaunch #NewHope #BeatingCancerTogether.”
Regional Memorial Hospital announces the closure of its OB/GYN services effective [date].
After careful consideration and evaluation of our current operations, we have made the difficult decision to discontinue our OB/GYN services in order to focus our resources on other areas of patient care. This decision was not made lightly and was based on a number of factors, including declining patient volumes and the need to redirect resources to areas where we can have the greatest impact.
We understand that this decision may cause inconvenience and we apologize for any disruption this may cause. We are working closely with our patients and referring physicians to ensure a smooth transition of care. Our patients can find quality OB/GYN care at nearby healthcare facilities.
We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to our dedicated OB/GYN staff for their years of service and commitment to providing exceptional care to our patients.
For more information or to discuss alternative care options, please contact our Patient Relations department at [phone number].
Subject: Update on Physician Compensation
I hope this message finds you well. I am writing to inform you of a change to your compensation that I wanted to personally share with you.
Due to recent changes in the healthcare market and increasing financial pressures on our organization, we have had to make the difficult decision to reduce physician compensation. I understand that this news may be concerning, but please know that this decision was not made lightly and was reached only after a thorough review of our financial situation.
Effective [date], your compensation will be reduced by [percentage] percent. I understand that this may have an impact on your financial stability and I want to assure you that we have taken steps to minimize the impact on you as much as possible. We will be offering a variety of support services, including financial planning and counseling, to help you through this transition.
I want to thank you for your commitment to providing high-quality care to our patients. I know that this change may be difficult, but I am confident that we will continue to work together to provide the best care possible.
If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out. I will be available to meet with you individually if you would like to discuss this change further.
Sincerely, [Your Name] [Company Name]
Write an employee email announcing the layoffs of 10% of nursing, environmental services and support staff
I hope this email finds you well. I am writing to inform you of a difficult but necessary decision that our organization has had to make. Due to ongoing financial challenges, it has been decided that we must reduce our workforce.
Effective immediately, we will be laying off 10% of our nursing, environmental services and support staff. This decision was not made lightly and was based on a thorough review of our operations and the need to ensure the financial stability of our organization.
I understand that this news is difficult to hear and will have an impact on our colleagues and their families. We are committed to supporting those affected by these layoffs, and we will be offering severance packages, outplacement services and other resources to help them transition to new opportunities.
We would like to thank our colleagues who are affected by this decision for their dedicated service and contributions to our organization. Their contributions will not be forgotten and we wish them the best in their future endeavors.
Please know that this decision does not reflect the hard work and dedication of our remaining colleagues, who will continue to play an important role in providing quality care to our patients. We are confident that, by working together, we will overcome this difficult situation and continue to provide exceptional care to our community.
If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to your supervisor or HR representative.
Thank you for your understanding and continued dedication to our patients and our organization.
Sincerely, [Your Name] [Your Title] Regional Memorial Hospital