AI in Medical Communications: Revolutionising the present, redefining the future

AI Illustration

Artificial intelligence (AI) is poised to transform Medical Communications. From content creation to data analysis, AI has the potential to greatly enhance productivity and insights generation across healthcare communications. However, responsible adoption will be key to ensuring quality, accuracy, and accountability.

We spoke to five of our AI vanguards to hear how AI is shaking and shaping their worlds, and how they believe it may impact Medical Communications.

How is AI shaking up the landscape of healthcare communications?

Accelerated content production

One of the biggest impacts of AI on Medical Communications is the ability to produce content at speed; as Jack Vance (Managing Director, Data and Activation, at IPG Health and SOLVE(D), an IPG Health company) noted, “the biggest trend that we’re seeing is the amount of content that we are able to produce has completely shifted. We’re able to move so much faster in getting content created.”

Tools that utilise natural language processing, for example, can help generate initial content drafts, saving time and providing a framework for a writer to build upon. With the aid of AI, Medical Communications professionals will spend less time at the starting line and more time refining and finalising high-quality content tailored to their audiences.

Enhanced data analysis

There’s also huge potential to aid the research that informs Medical Communications strategy. As Vance explains, “another thing that AI is going to help with is when there’re huge amounts of research. Bringing all of that together and really distilling it down, making it easier for the insights and research side of Medical Communications, I think that’s going to be a big shift.”

The technology can quickly analyse insights from extensive volumes of data, including the vast quantities of unstructured data that are currently very difficult to access in a systematic way.

By synthesizing insights from both structured and unstructured data sources, AI can also uncover patterns that allow for better targeting. As Adriano Botter (Executive Director for Product Development at 90 North, an IPG Health company) noted, “we now have access to this world because natural language processing can help you to structure the unstructured data, to make sense of it, allowing us to better understand stakeholders and why they are taking or not taking specific action.”

What nuances does Medical Communications need to consider with AI?

The need for responsible adoption

While AI may automate certain tasks, human collaboration and oversight remain essential to ensure outputs are compliant and scientifically sound. As Orla Weir (Head of Global Omnichannel at CMC Connect, an IPG Health company) points out, “it's really important that the models are trained on medical information/scientific content, so they can detect some of the nuances in the language and in the phraseology, because it can be very specific within the Medical Communications arena.”

But it goes beyond merely understanding the field, as Charlotte Moseley (Executive Director for Client Engagement at IPG Health Medical Communications) cautioned: “We’ve got lots of rules and regulations in healthcare. So, we’ve got those guardrails, and they need to be taught”. Botter echoed this, stating, “the way we have to produce content is always based on a reference, a peer-reviewed paper, or something that you can use as a scientific basis. AI can help us with that, but you have to teach AI to understand those rules, to understand those regulations, and that’s not an easy task.”

Maintaining stakeholder trust through transparency about the use of AI will also be critical. There is still progress to be made in optimising AI for the unique needs of the medical field. For example, maintaining confidentiality of pre-launch or patient data is a major consideration. Further, ensuring data protection and ethical use of information is paramount, and using systems to handle patient data requires significant privacy and ethical considerations.

How do we overcome barriers to innovation in healthcare communications?

Overcoming obstacles to innovation

Developing and sharing best practices for responsible use of AI can help lessen concerns. Industry groups have already begun outlining standards around transparency and using appropriately trained models. Establishing guardrails and standards through such groups will pave the way for wider acceptance and will also advance advocacy and collaboration with regulatory bodies.

Starting with lower-risk applications and limited pilots - focused on workflow enhancements, rather than public-facing content, for example - is another way to incrementally build confidence and trust. Small tests within contained applications can demonstrate value before rolling out more widely. This approach will help address current fears about AI and aid understanding that AI is there to enhance expertise, rather than replace professionals.

As reinforced by Ilana Scholl (Head of Digital Strategy at Caudex, an IPG Health company), “there are five key things that Medical Communications needs to weigh in on: process; belief AI will work; understanding that this isn't the Wild West - there's closed AI, so we can keep it within regulation; knowledge that it is not replacing anything, it's just streamlining; and finally, being open to change,” which she thinks is the biggest barrier.

Where can we strategically place our bets for the best returns?

Future investment areas

When considering where to place strategic bets on AI-enabled services and talent development, workflow automation tools seem fitting for near-term wins, according to Vance: “I think we’re going to see a lot of people get AI into internal operations for so many day-to-day tasks. From an insights research standpoint, I think that is where we're going to see the fastest movement because you'll be able to take advantage of that almost risk-free.”

Looking further ahead, Scholl anticipates big changes in omnichannel approaches, stating “there's a huge opportunity in terms of globalisation and localisation of content. Right now, it's not that clients don't want to fully do omnichannel, it's that budgets are prohibitive. With these tools, we will work together with AI to write things, but then translate and adapt for omnichannel modalities - getting one piece created, then converting it for many different channels.”

Successfully adopting AI will require us to adapt and increase our own skills. Prompt engineering will become a specific skill. As Moseley points out, “we've got a lot of great Medical Communications scientific depth at IPG Health, and having those people using their current skills combined with expert prompt engineering would seem to me almost superhuman.” Building human expertise in prompt engineering and judicious AI adoption will unlock huge benefits across the spectrum of Medical Communications.

What transformations can we expect in three years from now?

The new normal within three years

Within just a few years, AI is likely to be universal across the field. Weir predicts, “in the world of Medical Communications, we won't be having this conversation around ‘Should we be using AI on this?’ - it will just be done. Everyone will expect it to be done. It’ll be ubiquitous.”

While regulatory frameworks will have caught up to account for AI-based communications, the emphasis will be on enhancing quality through technology, rather than replacing human input.

Seamless collaboration between humans and algorithms will enable greater efficiency, allowing professionals to focus on high-value strategic tasks. Content will be developed rapidly and tailored to diverse audiences and channels. Chat interfaces will also become a primary means of accessing digestible medical information, especially for healthcare professionals and patients.

The most impactful change may perhaps be the holy grail for Medical Communications - the speed and efficiency with which we can translate evidence into clinical practice. Seamless human-AI collaboration will be the norm, rather than the exception. This is the future of Medical Communications, where AI unleashes the full potential of human creativity and expertise.


In case you were wondering, yes - generative AI was used to create this article, based on automated transcription of a roundtable discussion between the authors, with human review by the authors, Lucy Ferguson and David Finch of CMC Connect, and edited by Jennifer Garces of Caudex, IPG Health companies.

About the authors

Adriano BotterAdriano Botter is EVP and Executive Director of Product Development at 90 North, an IPG Health company. With expertise in digital transformation, Botter serves as the executive sponsor for digital and innovation, bridging the gap between data, creativity, and strategy. He leads the Product Team at 90 North, developing AI-powered products that leverage cutting-edge technologies, machine learning algorithms, and unparalleled data visualisation to uncover unexpected insights. With a remarkable 16-year career delivering successful data and digital projects for global brands, Botter's exceptional work has earned recognition from prestigious festivals and awards, such as El Ojo, Cannes Lions, Effie Awards, Awwwards, and FWA.

Charlotte MoseleyCharlotte Moseley, EVP, Client Engagement, IPG Health Medical Communications has over three decades of experience, across diverse therapeutic categories, shaping award-winning Medical Communication programmes globally. Moseley’s passion lies in driving transformative change, crafting innovative strategies, and fostering enduring partnerships. As a seasoned professional in Medical Communications, she has served roles across medical affairs and commercial, coupled with over 15 years at IPG Health, partnering across many pharma and biotech organisations. With a strong scientific background, her focus is on integrating knowledge and driving innovation into robust client partnerships, ensuring brands shine with distinction.

Ilana SchollIlana Scholl is Head of Digital Strategy at Caudex, an IPG Health company. She is a 20+ year industry veteran, having begun her career in client services with a digital-first mindset, working across commercial pharma for both HCP and patient journeys. Scholl led teams across various therapeutic areas before transitioning to Medical Communications and taking on her current role, which involves leveraging the power of digital across Medical Communications.

Jack VanceJack Vance is MD of Data and Activation at IPG Health and SOLVE(D). He has built a strong reputation for utilising data science and marketing technology to enhance business strategies and achieve transformative outcomes for clients. With an impressive track record spanning more than two decades, Vance has consistently demonstrated innovative thinking and a strategic approach to address complex marketing challenges. In his current role, he leads IPG Health's and SOLVE(D)’s team of dedicated data analysts and marketing professionals, providing data-centric marketing solutions for clients globally. Vance is a graduate of Appalachian State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Actuarial Science and holds a Master’s degree in Financial Mathematics from North Carolina State University.

Orla WeirÓrla Weir is Head of Omnichannel at CMC Connect, an IPG Health company. Weir has over 20 years of experience working in scientific equipment, education, and the pharmaceutical industries. Her role is to help pharmaceutical and biotech companies leverage digital, omnichannel, and AI innovative approaches for strategic and tactical engagement and communications.