AI Healthcare Marketing Requires Trust and Genuine Connection

AI healthcare startups face the unique challenge of convincing customers that their technology is fit to be trusted with something as valuable as a human life. Here’s three ways they can build trust with their audiences.

AI healthcare startups use innovative marketing strategies.

AI has the potential to help healthcare providers make accurate diagnoses fast and create data-informed treatment plans. Earlier, more accurate diagnoses could pave the way for a future where intervention before an illness becomes critical is the norm. In short, AI technology could completely change how our world experiences disease. But what if patients don’t trust it?

As with any new or experimental method, patients may experience some trepidation when they learn their diagnosis or treatment plan may be handled in part by AI technology. In healthcare, trust is essential. It’s how patients feel safe navigating and participating in appointments, treatment plans, surgeries, and other medical necessities. 

Healthcare AI startups face the unique challenge of convincing investors, potential partners, and patients that their innovative offerings are fit to be trusted with something as fragile and valuable as human life. Here are three ways AI tech startups can demolish skepticism and build trust with customers and investors.

Emphasizing human supervision builds trust

Startups must contend with a pervasive fear of failure. While we’ve had millennia to get accustomed to human failure, technological failure is still a hot-button issue. (See Microsoft’s failed AI chatbot, Amazon’s biased recruiting tool, etc.) These AI mishaps have understandably sown seeds of skepticism in the general public.

Therefore, like many industries before them, AI healthcare startups must address the fear of the unknown and the potential of failure to get their audience on board. This messaging isn’t just relevant for customers: healthcare is a highly regulated industry, and making claims that can’t be backed up is how companies like Theranos end up in court.

Take, for example, Tempus, a company “making precision medicine a reality by applying AI in healthcare.” Among other products, Tempus offers sequencing services to help doctors and patients make informed decisions when diagnosing and treating cancer—including genomic profiling and somatic and germline testing. But the true star of Tempus’ copy is the human healthcare providers who put their innovative technology to work. “We can help physicians make more informed treatment decisions,” reads their home page.

Tempus’ language makes it clear that real humans always have the final say. Their tools are meant to “empower [providers] to customize treatment for individual patients, throughout their cancer journey”—not to dictate decisions. 

Eko, a company that uses AI-powered devices to catch early signs of heart and lung disease, uses this human-first messaging as well. Their slogan is “Every patient encounter deserves exceptional care.” Rather than lead with what their technology does, they lead with what their technology does in the hands of a healthcare provider. With AI, human providers aren’t going away, they’re just getting some help.

Demystifying your data establishes authority

What’s one way to squash fear of the unknown? Make the unknown known.

AI systems are rules-based and constrained by algorithmic decision-making. Incapable of independent thought, AI systems learn from the data they gather and analyze. Providers, patients, and investors may rightly wonder: What data are these AI systems using? Is the dataset large enough to produce highly accurate results? Who is providing this data in the first place? 

Establishing authority by demystifying your AI system’s data-driven process can help you build trust with customers. True, these tools are complex, and you may fear that delving into the details will just lead to long, overly technical pages of copy that customers don’t want to have to sit down and read.

But not necessarily. Take, for example, this snippet from Paige, a startup that makes tools to help pathologists diagnose cancer in its early stages: “By combining proprietary computational pathology technology with data from millions of digitized glass slides and corresponding pathology reports, Paige technology can identify difficult or hard to recognize tissue patterns.”

In just a few lines, Paige explains that their tools leverage vast amounts of human-provided data to draw their conclusions, without getting too verbose or overly technical. The blurb establishes authority. Paige’s data is contributed by professional pathologists. Millions of data points are evaluated by their tools. The result? Technology that is conceptually accessible and trustworthy.

A revolutionary healthcare startup got a tonal retune

A medical technology startup, Ezra used the latest technology to screen patients for prostate cancer. Unfortunately, its website didn’t match these ambitions—it was too serious, and risked alienating the at-risk patients Ezra was trying to attract. But after approaching MarketSmiths, Ezra soon got a website it could be proud of. Interviewing a number of SMEs, we dug deep into the science of cancer diagnosis—while keeping copy upbeat and approachable. Between that and help with social media and SEO, we’ve helped transform Ezra into one of the most impressive healthcare firms around—and kept their audience safe from the scourge of cancer. 

> Read the full case study

It’s okay to be open about your long-term goals

When a patient receives a serious diagnosis, they typically (and understandably) want to get multiple opinions before accepting a diagnosis or making decisions regarding treatment. These opinions may be conflicting, and potentially inaccurate. The process moves slowly—it can often be hard to get an appointment with a new provider in a timely manner. 

With instant access to a vast library of trustworthy data, AI tools have the power to eventually help patients bypass this tedious process, making diagnoses faster and more accurate. In time, these tools could change the way our world experiences disease. 

Paige is on a mission to “transform the landscape of oncology.” Freenome is “decoding the means to cancer’s end.” When butting heads with fear of the unknown, it’s important to remind readers that the unknown may turn out to be a vast improvement over the familiar.

To succeed, AI startups should discuss their larger goals and help customers understand the magnitude of the reward for pushing through their skepticism. Take the time to zoom out and clearly define what your technology means for both individual patient and provider encounters and the larger healthcare landscape. Customers tend to seek out shared values and goals. By clearly articulating both short-term and long-term goals and benefits, you’re creating an avenue to common ground. 

With a strong background in healthcare coupled with our ability to learn the ropes of complicated topics, MarketSmiths is your go-to for getting customers and investors on board with new and innovative medical technologies. We’ve written for hospitals and hospital systems, labs and pharmaceutical companies, device manufacturing companies, and more. We’re here to help you find your voice and build trust with your audience. Ready to get started? Contact the MarketSmiths team today.

Caitlin McQuade

Caitlin McQuade

Caitlin is a theatre-person-turned-copywriter with a deep love for good storytelling. In her stint as a freelancer, she wrote everything from corporate blog copy to a screenplay adaptation of Shakespeare’s As You Like It. When Caitlin isn’t writing, you can usually find her at a play or concert, checking out a new coffee shop, or exploring the city.

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