Generative AI is the fastest growing technology ever, and is anticipated to be adopted faster than the world wide web.
Lauren Biscaldi, Managing Editor of Drug Topics, sat down with Lori Schafer, the CEO of Digital Wave Technology, to chat about Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI): the ins, the outs, and the importance of using these technology tools to improve everything from product marketing to patient counseling.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.
Lauren Biscaldi, Managing Editor, Drug Topics: Can you explain the difference between AI and Generative AI?
Lori Schafer: Great question. AI…has actually been around for many years. There are different types of artificial intelligence. When you think about human intelligence, what artificial intelligence does is solve very difficult problems. It could be, for example, looking at drug development; it can be looking at synthesizing proteins and making that process much, much faster. It could be optimizing price points. It could be anything that's a very complex problem that a computer can do faster than human, if you will.
Today, the hot topic is Generative AI, or Gen AI, which actually got very popular at the beginning of this year. The difference is, now, there are large models. AI is typically numbers…it's crunching a lot of data and a lot of numbers. Generative AI looks at text, images, videos, and audio, all of those different ways of communicating. It can generate new data, very fast; it solves problems by literally coming up with new text, creating its own images, and creating its own videos.
So, is Generative AI more like, for example, Chat GPT?
So, ChatGPT is a brand, if you will. It's one type of generative AI that works on text. AI is a big umbrella; Generative AI is part of that. It has to do with natural language, so it puts everything into the natural way you either speak or visualize or taste—that kind of thing.
Despite the increasing prevalence of AI and Generative AI, the technology can still be intimidating to people who are not familiar with it, or with how to use it. In your experience, what is the current role of generative AI in the health care space, specifically?
Right now, Generative AI is relatively new; it's the fastest growing technology ever, in the sense that the expectation around adoption is 10 years faster, for example, than the world wide web. Which was the last big jump. They’re comparing Generative AI to that kind of impact on society.
When you look at health care, most companies now are just starting out with AI. What we recommend as a provider of Generative AI software is to start with experimentation—you want to have the human in charge; you do not want to have the Generative AI or AI as the autopilot, which, for some people, that's how it gets scary. You want it to be the copilot, and being the copilot makes you a lot more efficient.
Some of the specific areas where we're applying Generative AI: Think about a website or product content. You have different drugs, it could be behind the counter or it could be over the counter. And you need to describe those products; you need to tell story. You've got product descriptions, you might have content on the website, you might have content in marketing and so forth. Instead of having to write all that copy, you can just say to the Generative AI, “Tell the product story in our own brand voice.” From that, with just literally typing a small prompt, it will come back and create new copy.
A pharmacist might have thousands of products in a store, similar to retailers and even B2B websites, and all of that product content. Generative AI can automatically generate all of that content in a matter of seconds or minutes, vs a copywriter might have to take a half day to write copy for a couple of those products.
Copywriters are trained to do that; pharmacists are not necessarily inclined to writing.
No, exactly. Think about the applications: We’re just getting started with it right now, right? A pharmacist’s best skill set is not necessarily writing. But a good copywriter is going to use Generative AI as their helper, so that the copywriter can now start thinking about bigger things; let it do the legwork. You create the style and the content that you want to talk about, and then the AI does the writing.
If you think about it, in health care, the words are not necessarily user-friendly, they’re not patient friendly. I think of a friend that has been diagnosed with cancer; the pharmacist has that first line of contact. And so, the patient wants to understand, “What's wrong with me? Why am I taking this drug? What does it do for me?” We’re now testing this with pharmacies, telling the Generative AI, “Write this up in plain English.” This way, the person who receives it… You know, when you get a drug, and this long paper, and the font is a size 6, and nobody is ever going to read it, right? Put it in plain English, and then you can educate the person so that they want to take the drug.
When I was approaching this interview, I was thinking more about the use of Generative AI in terms of products and the pharmacy front-end, but this seems like an amazing tool that you can use for patient education opportunities.
Exactly. For marketing at Digital Wave Technology, where I run the company, we have software that will automatically produce content, like an image; tell it, “Create a stock photo that has XYZ, ABC,” and it creates a new one. And now that’s your copyright.
Is there a real-world Generative AI use case that you can share with us?
Sure. The ones that are applied successfully today at mass production are typically in the content/product space. For example, creating a website and determining what product attributes—and think of an attribute as a keyword—you need for each product, so that when you search you’re going to find it instantly. That’s all done manually on every website; there are a lot of people who have to type that in. With what we’re doing, it’s now fully automated, and it's taken the time down and creating better content, and better search score, with a 97% increase in efficiency.
It's probably helping on the SEO end of things as well.
It’s a help on huge SEO.
I feel like nobody understands how SEO works; it’s a bit of a mystery.
I do, but very few people do, and I can tell you that it puts SEO on your products with a whole different perspective, in ways where—a human just wouldn’t necessarily think that way.
Likewise, think about blogging. As a health care company, blog more, without taking the time to blog. All you have to do is say, “I want a blog about XYZ,” and it creates it. You can edit it a bit, and then sent it out, and it gets all of the right SEO words in there—and that really helps your content.
Another example in pharmacy is, all of that paperwork. It can automate so much of that going forward. Look at chatbots: when the pharmacist is tied up, you can have a kiosk in the store—or an app on your phone—where a patient can say, “I really need to understand XYZ about my medication.” The pharmacist can say, “Hi, I’m so-and-so, and here’s what we recommend,” and it’s all done through the Generative AI.
It's really exciting. It’s a little scary, and it’s a little intimidating, and you have to be safe. You have to have security and all that, but those are the kinds of things we focus on in our business.
If a pharmacist was looking to work with a company—for example, your company, Digital Wave Technology—do they need to go back into the AI every time they want to use it. Do you have to retrain it to write in your voice every time?
You train it once. You train it one time in your brand voice, and it retains that. After you train it once, you can use it over and over; it’s kind of like a template in Microsoft Word. You can save a template prompt. Some of these companies have millions of products and are set up to do batch processing—"I want this voice and I want to create copy for 10,000 products”—boom, done.
And of course, it’s secure; working with, for example, a Chat GPT… it’s not secure, unless you really know how to use it. For the average person, it’s not secure. As a company, you want to have that security.
What actionable tips do you have for pharmacists who want to improve their skills with Generative AI, or incorporate Generative AI to improve their digital presence or store offerings, but are nervous about it. What should they be doing?
I would say a few things. Number one is, work with somebody—a small company or a large company—who you trust, who understands it. You need the partner at first. It’s almost like a crash course education; Generative AI is designed for the average human who isn’t necessarily a great writer a great marketer.
Start really small—as small as, put Chat GPT on your phone as an app to try it. When it’s time for business, work with a consultant or a software company—someone who does this for a living—so you can at least trial it and see how it would work in your particular use case. For example, the idea of a pharmacist being able to create a chat bot for writing that friendly human description of what the patient is going through. Those are the kinds of things that are available right now, you just have to incorporate that software into practice.
It's scary at first; some people are worried that the end result is that it’s going to take over people’s jobs. But, it’s not. The interesting thing about Generative AI… it’s not intelligent, artificial intelligence. When you understand how it works, you realize it’s just generating more content from the content that it learned from. You still have to have a human there; it’s going to elevate the human to think more and manually type less.
I always find that, as a writer, the first draft is the hardest. It’s so much easier to go back and edit, or to edit something that someone else created to use for my own needs.
With Generative AI, you think first, and then you tell it, “I want to write about such and such, and I want it to be tailored this way, and I want it in outline format. I want it in 1000 words or less.” Then you let it go; copy it into a word processor and edit it. It gives a copywriter the ability to be an editor; that’s the way to think about it. It’s going to raise your ability to think and do better, by not spending all of your time with syntax and worried about commas and grammar. It can create a photo, it can create a video of you talking that looks like you, and talks like you, but isn’t you.