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The Upside of Artificial Intelligence on Medical Writing

This article is based on the session titled, “Shifting Medical Writing Value Propositions with the Use of Technology,” at the DIA 2024 Global Annual Meeting, in San Diego, June 2024. Many thanks to the presenters: Robin Whitsell (Whitsell Innovations), Joanne Hilton (GlaxoSmithKline), and Kayla Williams (Takeda) for their valuable insights. This translation is the author’s rendering of their points and should not be taken as exact quotations. 

The Evolution of Google Search: From SEO to AI Summarization 

Google, along with other well-known search engines, has long been a cornerstone of the way we access information. Historically, the internet relies heavily on search engine optimization (SEO) to provide website recommendations for search terms. Today, a new way of digesting key points in content through search engines is being ushered in with artificial intelligence (AI) driven summaries, which generate concise overviews of topics, presenting curated options directly to users. This shift signifies a profound change in how we interact with information online, raising both promises and concerns.  

Tools, like AI summarization technology, offer numerous benefits. They can streamline information retrieval, saving users time and effort by providing immediate answers to queries. For medical writers and life science companies, there is both optimism and caution tied to efficiencies being built and costs being reduced when using AI as part of their process. However, technology, regardless of its popularity and use, brings inherent limitations and biases that must be acknowledged and addressed. 

Potential Biases in AI in Medical Writing 

AI systems are only as good as the data in which they are trained. If the training data is biased, the AI’s output will also reflect those biases. For instance, if AI primarily processes information from sources dominated by a particular demographic, it may inadvertently perpetuate those biases. In the dynamic landscape of clinical research, ensuring diversity in clinical trials has emerged as a critical factor for the success of the healthcare ecosystem, and this kind of automated solution can be problematic.  

To mitigate these biases, it is crucial to approach technology and its use with caution. Overreliance on a solution just because it’s available, may provide cost savings, or because it’s a new wave, may result in failure to have your Investigational New Drug (IND) application accepted.  

Medical Writers Carry Essential Skills for the Future 

The rise of AI has sparked fears of job displacement, particularly in fields like medical writing where AI can handle tactical tasks. However, strategy remains a big part of the medical writing process. The medical writer serves as documentation architect, decision catalyst, initial draft writer, and curator of comments. To stay relevant, medical writing professionals must optimize their skill sets by focusing on areas that AI cannot easily replicate. 

During the presentation, it was boldly shared, “AI will not replace humans, but humans with AI will replace humans without AI.”   

Key skills for medical writers remain indispensable, including: 

Most medical writers possess a deep understanding of disease states or modalities, as this specialized knowledge will be increasingly valuable. While AI can assist with generating content, the strategic and creative aspects of writing still rely on human expertise. 

So, while technology powered advancements such as AI summarization represent a significant evolution in how we access and interact with information, the application of AI to the medical writing process continues to pose challenges which require careful human-intervention. By understanding and addressing the limitations and biases of AI, and by optimizing our skills and organizational strategies, we can harness the full potential of this technology to drive innovation and improve outcomes. 

Halloran’s Medical Writing Services  

Our medical writing services offer the proficiency and expertise to support our clients at every stage of development in crafting documents for regulatory submissions, investigators, and beyond. We tap into a wealth of regulatory, clinical development, and quality and compliance knowledge shared by Halloran consultants across all our services to meet your unique requirements.  

Whether you require all Module 2 written and tabulated summaries, the protocol, and the investigator’s brochure for your new Investigational New Drug submission, or if you have internal subject matter experts covering certain sections but need additional support in a critical area, we are poised to help your medical writing needs. Contact us.