Hello, everyone! Thank you for the overwhelming response to the Turing Distinguished Leader Series. Please see our other interviews conducted for this series. See: Henrik Hussfelt, Director of Engineering at Proxy. Please also enjoy: Darren Murph, Head of Remote at GitLab. Let us know what you think!
This time around, I’m conversing with Kelly Graziadei, founder and general partner at f7 Ventures. Kelly has over 20 years of experience in high-growth tech companies. f7 Ventures have managed and developed thousands of people across dozens of teams worldwide and scaled user growth to over a billion. In the discussion below, Kelly shares insights into managing globally distributed teams.
Welcome to Turing’s Distinguished Leader Series. Today, we have an exciting guest, Kelly, who was a senior exec at Facebook. Kelly now has her own venture firm, f7 Ventures. She is also an early Turing investor. Thank you for joining us today, Kelly.
So, could you tell us a bit of your story, what you did at Facebook, and how that led to f7?
Absolutely. So I’ve essentially been an operator for about 20 years, from companies the size of three people to 300,000. I’ve primarily built and led go-to-market teams over that period.
Going all the way back, I can take it old school to AltaVista in the early days. Then I joined Overture through the acquisition from Yahoo. After that, I joined Facebook in 2010. And there are several interesting stories about my journey to Facebook. But one that I would share is that I essentially had a job offer on the product side and a job offer on the sales side.
I ultimately chose the latter and built out what was the mid-market channel. So in a few short years, grew that to 150 people and a billion dollars in revenue. So it was an incredibly high-growth, fast-paced environment. I ultimately chose that because I’ve always cared a lot about people in teams. This focus has been a hallmark of my career, and I love that we’re connecting on this topic today.
After my time on the mid-market side, I made my way back to product and ran the product marketing team globally for monetization. And I had teams in all four regions and managed a globally distributed team. After about eight years of Facebook, I finally decided that it was time to leave. I had the itch to go back to something smaller. When I joined Facebook, there were about 750 people. When I left, it was 40,000 plus strong, so the company had a truly dramatic growth.
And from there, I went and did an EIR at Foundation Capital. That’s where Jonathan and I met. I was trying to decide what I wanted to do next: “Did I want to start a company? Did I want to go the investor path?” So finally, I married those two things and did both by starting a venture firm with six other ex-Facebook leaders and operators. It’s awesome.
And at Facebook, did you work with Sheryl Sandberg?
Yes, absolutely. Sheryl’s fantastic. There are so many learnings from my time at Facebook. I think Sheryl continues to be a significant influence on the Facebook culture, particularly when it comes to being thoughtful about managing people and navigating your career. I took away many lessons from working with her.
And speaking of which, I think one significant shift in this last year and a half has been the adoption of distributed teams, right? People are now comfortable with the idea of distributed teams. What was your experience with the same during your Facebook days? And now, you get to experience distributed teams through a different lens, which is the f7 portfolio companies getting started today.
So are there any lessons that you have for founders thinking about distributed teams based on your experience from Facebook and the f7 portfolio companies?
Yeah, that’s a good question. I think there are several lessons in terms of managing distributed global teams. If I think of the first two tools in the toolset, I would say you need respect and empathy. And you need to slow down to understand those things.
When I moved over to the product side of things at Yahoo, I had led some global teams, but I’ll just stick to Facebook specifically. There, I went from running a US-based team to stepping into a global role.
Here, you need to keep some basics in mind—things like time zones, for example. Everyone needs to feel respected. They should not think that that one team should always have the team meeting at midnight.
You need to rotate so that each time zone has to flex and give at different times. I think you also have to just be thoughtful around reading the room and reading language differences. If someone’s quieter, allow them to take the floor and be heard.
The other thing is being very clear in terms of goals and communication, including rolling things out clearly, using written and spoken communication for elaboration.
Doing this at Facebook, we had groups and what would become the Facebook Workplace, which was a great way to facilitate that. Having a good set of tools that can help people communicate synchronously in real-time is essential.
That makes sense. And one of the things I consistently hear from founders building companies today is that it’s tough to onboard people the right way to a team. Particularly if you’ve started a company in the last year and a half, how do you ensure that they get integrated into the team the right way? How do you ensure that people develop the right relationships within their group and inside the broader organization when everybody’s globally distributed?
Do you have any advice for founders thinking about company building today and how they could be intentional about ensuring that the right relationships get built inside the company?
Yeah, that’s a great question. The words that you said that jump out at me are ‘being intentional.’ And I think that’s one of the challenges for an early-stage company. You’re moving fast as a founder, and you have a whole bunch of competing priorities in terms of how to build a fast-moving company.
But what should be on that priority list is being intentional about the culture from the very start. Letting negative culture run away from you at the beginning can be incredibly damaging.
So it’s essential to be thoughtful about that upfront. As a founder, you need to model a lot of that behavior. So how are you prioritizing one-on-one conversations, facilitating connections between people, creating those forums for different individuals to share their work and experience, or learn from one another?
Facilitating those connections where you have different individuals working together is essential. I think there’s nothing more bonding than a shared experience or working towards a shared goal. But again, the most important is being intentional about those things and doing it from day one.
The other thing I would add is to think of moments where people can get together in person. It doesn’t need to be all the time. But just a couple of days of people getting together can last you 12 months or longer. Having some of that personal interaction and bonding smoothens out the ‘long-distance relationships,’ if you will.
When you look at the f7 portfolio and the companies you’re investing in today, how do those founders think about an office at the seed stage?
I think—most if not all—are remote and remote first.
Some had an office at the beginning of the pandemic and then decided to go all remote. It’s a notable change from a couple of years ago. Today, so many founders are thinking about: “How do I build a remote-first team? How do I help people feel connected to the top-line goals?”
The other thing I see for founders is being more thoughtful and formal about their communication at an earlier stage.
That is equally important even with a small team: “What’s the all-hands? What’s the email that you’re sending out? How are you doing one-on-ones?” So I think it’s vital to think of that and not just hope it unfolds as it should.
How do your portfolio companies think about what they will do post-pandemic? For example, do your founders see themselves coming back to an office, or do they envision staying remote, or do you see a hybrid structure?
Yes, I think we’ll see companies staying remote for a while. A few are thinking about hybrid solutions. So I imagine we’ll see more flexible workspaces with people moving into shared spaces.
When I joined Facebook, I lived like an hour and a half from the office. I spent over three hours a day in my car. That’s not a world I would want to go back to.
At least six or 12 months ago, I heard a little bit of chatter that there would still be the headquarters, but people that want to work remotely would have more flexibility. There’s an interesting conversation happening about some of the downsides of that model. It creates a hierarchy or a two-party system. I think we’ll see more companies that decide to go all-remote and all-distributed. This way, you don’t create that hierarchy of people in the office vs. out of the office.
The remote vs. hybrid team structure is something that we think about a lot on the f7 side. We invest in three sectors. One of those is the future of work. So much of the infrastructure we used to lean on for work is changing. I think we’re going to see some exciting changes to support a distributed model.
Yeah! Mental health is one area that f7 focuses on, which we never thought would be a vital core benefit. At Turing, we are evaluating subscriptions to some mindfulness mental health services for our team and the broader Turing developer network. Because when you work from home, loneliness and isolation are significant factors.
Absolutely. And along with that, we also focus on connected communities, which is a bit of what you’re describing. We’re also challenging how and where we form communities because the traditional office-based ways no longer happen. So we need to focus on mechanisms that help people create and feel those meaningful connections.
And what are some interesting categories that you’ve seen emerge in the last year and a half as the world has shifted to distributed teams? It sounds like mental health, and emphasis on that is one such area.
You mentioned connected communities. Are there any other categories that you think we’ll see a lot of innovation in as the future of the office moves to the cloud, for lack of a better word?
Yes. I think this will be an extension of remote work, distributed teams—just the gig economy in general.
What we’ve seen is an overall labor shortage. So people are looking for more flexible options. Not only working remotely but working on their schedule and time. So I think we will see that infrastructure around the gig economy, creator economy, and passion economy.
Another area around the future of work that we’re passionate about is reskilling. The percentage of people that need new job training or reskilling as our jobs and environment change is pretty dramatic.
And there’s a company called Flockjay that does this specific to sales, and it’s just been fascinating. For example, some people who had an average income of 30k to 35k before Flockjay, have an average income of 75k to 85k after using it.
There’s also a company called Read.CV that I’m super excited about. They’re the LinkedIn for this new generation gig economy. And where LinkedIn may be a little bit more reliant on things like labels, Read.CV provides a much more dynamic way to represent your work via projects, writing, or speaking. And so we feel like it represents how people work now.
That’s super interesting, Kelly! The reskilling piece is interesting because it matches what we see. So we recently conducted a survey with our developers at Turing. One of our questions was: “What could we build for you to make the Turing platform more useful?”
And right at the top was: “help with upskilling.” And right now, we are focussing on what I would call horizontal and vertical reskilling and upskilling.
Horizontally, we want to give people feedback based on their profile that if they pick up this XYZ skill, they’ll become more valuable in the industry. And then we want to help them acquire that skill either in partnership or doing some things ourselves. So that’s horizontal upskilling, where we help them up-level in some of these adjacent areas.
The vertical upskilling that we think about is that Turing internally has an engineering ladder similar to Facebook. We have IC3, IC5. We have tech leads and tech lead managers. So we ask ourselves, what can we do to accelerate a developer’s growth from IC3 to IC4 and so on. And, interestingly, reskilling is something that comes up in a variety of contexts. People want that growth.
And it’s so fascinating because if you think about where people get that growth or education, you think about a university setting or a job setting.
Now, we’re at a place where tenure in a job is decreasing. Our people are doing more gig economy type work, so we need to think: “Okay, where does that development happen? Who’s going to be responsible for that development?”. So I think we already see some innovations there, and we’ll continue to see them.
Yep. And in that sense, Kelly, in the last year and a half, have you seen any interesting new tools emerge that have made it easier to operate a remote-first team that either you’ve invested in or you’ve witnessed f7 companies adopt? Any new tools that make it easier than ever to work as a distributed team?
I would say, on the one hand, simplicity in certain cases wins out.
One of the challenges right now is the various channels that people are trying to manage, from Slack to WhatsApp, email, text, and Messenger. Personally speaking, I’ll be like: “Wait, someone reached out to me, and I need to check like six different channels to track that.” I don’t know if there’s a solution. This problem is all the more reason why companies need to figure out what tools people should be using.
That makes sense! Are there any best practices that you would recommend tactically, operationally for founders in building and managing a distributed team in today’s world -both based on your Facebook experience and from what your portfolio companies do? And could you highlight the pitfalls to avoid when managing a distributed team?
Yes. So from what I’d said earlier, being intentional is important. You go from a team that’s been two, three, four people, and then all of a sudden, you have 15- 20 people. How you operate as a company is different from three people to even 15 people. So I think it’s vital to get ahead of that and map out your communication plan.
This practice can feel awkward as a new founder: “Oh, that feels overly formal. Am I doing an all-hands with 15 people?” But you can call it something different or whatnot. So yeah, mapping out those touchpoints is essential.
I strongly suggest prioritizing one-on-ones first as a founder and a manager of a team. Helping connect the dots for others and getting to know one another is essential. It’s crucial to create a culture where the leaders own the entire team’s success, not just their function or their corner of the world. They should bring a group of people together to say: “Collectively, we own the success of this.”
And, of course, they should discuss the KPIs they’re trying to hit and empower people to bring their ideas and give them freedom and flexibility as to how they do that. When you create that ownership mentality, it helps generate respect for one another. It creates more cohesion. It forces people to talk about and understand one another’s priorities.
Lastly, getting people together and creating shared experiences and connections that breed long-term trust is helpful.
That’s super helpful, Kelly. And speaking of one-on-ones and how important they are, what’s your advice on how to have an effective one-on-one in this fully distributed world?
It’s interesting. I feel like through my operator career; I’ve experimented with the one-on-one in many different ways. There are some basics. Be consistent with the one-on-ones. Don’t change everybody’s time when things get crazy because then people start to feel like they’re not a priority.
Try to get away from a one-on-one that’s simply an update that you could share through email. And one of the things I’d do was ask my team members to send me the update in emails before the one-on-one. And my commitment is that I will read it before the one-on-one, and then we can spend the time on critical topics.
The other thing I would do is to set aside一outside of the one-on-one一some dedicated time just for a career development conversation. Just to check in and see how things are going. So I think setting aside time for those types of conversations is important in a fast-paced environment. It also helps people feel valued.
And what’s your cadence for one-on-ones, and what’s the duration that you typically have?
Yeah, so I would typically do weekly one-on-ones in 30 minutes.
Where did you learn to manage distributed teams? How do you get high performance from a distributed team?
Yeah, it’s tough. I feel like I learned from making mistakes and getting feedback from my team. I think the first shift, when you’re switching from an individual contributor to a manager, is the trickiest. Before the shift, how you were valued was based on your output as an individual contributor.
One of the mistakes people make when they pivot to being a manager is they’re still doing things as individual contributors. Management is like this extra thing on the side.
This mind-shift of managing is the most important job of the jobs on your list. And that’s how you have the most impact in the organization. That’s how you get the most scale. And then, you need to prioritize activities you need to do as a manager. The one-on-one is the first thing that gets canceled when things are busy. Don’t do that. That needs to be one of your top priorities.
Ask yourself: “How have you set goals for the team? Have you enrolled people in that goal-setting process?”
As a manager, you can be like: “Great! I set the goals for our team. I sent them all out.” But here, you didn’t ask anybody on the team for their opinion or feedback. So it’s vital to have those conversations with your team. Listening and understanding what’s important to them, being clear on the priorities, getting feedback, enrolling people along the way, making sure they feel respected and heard is the way to go.
I think there can also be this fine line. One of the pitfalls for me is that I probably over-rotate sometimes. It’s also a fine line to say: “Okay, great. Thank you. I heard you. I’m going to come back and let you know what I’ve decided and how we’re moving forward by tonight.” So listening doesn’t mean consensus一that’s another important thing in all of it.
You do learn on the job. Be reflective. Talk to other managers and ask them how they made the transition and if there were any tools or things that were useful for them?
And were there any books, podcasts, mentors who impacted how you think about managing?
Ooh. Good question. This book called the ‘30, 60, 90-day Plan’ can be valuable when you’re making a job transition. There’s one called ‘Essentialism’ which I like. It’s about prioritization and doing what’s most important.
Thank you, Kelly. I wonder if there’s a way to fast-track people to become excellent managers in an engineering sense and in a more general management sense. I guess larger companies have internal programs for management training and so on.
They do. I think there’s a company called Rising Team, which is essentially around managing more effectively, but I think there’s also a learning component around that. So I expect we’ll see more in that space.
Hopefully, what’s positive about that is that it will make some of that material and tools more accessible. In contrast, sometimes, you had to wait until someone deemed you ready for management within a company setting. I think these tools will help people who care about leadership and managing teams do that more readily.
Sounds good, Kelly. So in the last year and a half, the one thing that has changed is founders can fundraise from anywhere, and remote fundraising is a thing. Turing has raised about $52 million so far. And out of that, more than $40 million were raised remotely over Zoom. So I guess now I officially raised a lot more remotely than in person. So is it true that to build a big company today, it doesn’t matter if your base is in Silicon Valley? Or would you say that Silicon Valley still has inherent advantages?
In terms of founders that you back, do you see more people coming from outside Silicon Valley, or has that been no significant shift?
I think there may be a definition of Silicon Valley that isn’t specific to location. But, I think there’s still something powerful in terms of the Silicon Valley network.
But what we’re seeing is that it’s becoming more distributed. People are moving to various places, whether Austin or Miami or New York, or wherever that may be. But I think some of those networks and relationships are still really important.
You probably experienced this on the fundraising side, but it’s still very much a business of who did you work with that somebody else knows that can say: “Jonathan’s fantastic. You have to invest in Turing, and he’s going to build a fantastic, incredible business, and he’s thoughtful.” And so, it’s still something that relies heavily on those recommendations and trusted relationships.
But I think that will hopefully expand over time. And again, it’s less about the place, and it’s more about the sort of ethos and network of who you’ve worked with within tech. And it’s not because you had coffee with them in Palo Alto. It’s about how you’ve gotten to know each other or work together in different ways.
What we’re experiencing enables us to expand and establish those networks beyond Silicon Valley faster than ever before.
And the million-dollar question. What is your default going to be post-pandemic? Would it be a Zoom meeting for a first-time founder, or would it be an in-person meeting?
Oh, good question. I mean, there are pros and cons to both. The great news about Zoom is you can do many meetings in a day, but at the same time, with in-person meetings, you get more richness in terms of the relationship. So maybe the first meetings are on Zoom and the second meetings are in-person.
That sounds great. So Kelly, could you talk a little bit about f7 and what areas you invest in, and where people can go to learn more?
Absolutely. Thank you for asking. So for f7, we’re focused on pre-seed and seed-stage companies. We typically look for super scrappy founders, so we usually invest post MVP pre-revenue. So there are three sectors that we’re focused on that we’re doubling down, particularly with the events of the past 18 months.
‘Future of Work’ is one with a particular focus on the worker and the trends we’ve discussed. The second is ‘Mental and Physical Health,’ and then the third is ‘Connected Communities.’ So those are our primary focus areas.
And then, if you want to learn more, you could visit f7ventures.com. Find us on Twitter @F7 Ventures. Don’t hesitate to reach out if there’s something we can be helpful with. One of our big motivations for doing this was to take our depth of operational experience and translate that in a way that hopefully is helpful to early-stage founders.
We’ve all built and scaled in fast-paced environments. We’ve also made a lot of mistakes. And so, we’re motivated to be trusted partners. You don’t have to posture your position, and we’ll also roll up our sleeves and help when things are great and when problems arise. So that’s a big part of what we do.
Awesome. Thank you, Kelly. And for everyone reading this, I can personally vouch for all that Kelly has mentioned here. Kelly’s been a phenomenal partner and investor as we’ve grown Turing.
Kelly and her team can help you scale and build a big company from her experience helping scale this relatively small company that you might not have heard of: Facebook.
Thank you, Kelly, for being on Turing’s Distinguished Leader Series. And this will be super helpful for all the companies building on Turing and many companies building outside of Turing. If you’re building outside of Turing, you should build on Turing.
Absolutely. It has been so good to connect, as always!
Image Credit: Provided by the author; created by unklyak; www.freepik.com
5 Ways To Better Reach Your Audience
Attempting to reach your audience is difficult, as the internet is full of information, and consumers are flooded with the constant noise of advertising, social media, and email. It can be intimidating for a company to get its message heard over the noise. However, with a bit of care and planning, you can successfully reach your target demographic and interest them in your product.
Maybe you’re a new business with a great product and want to know how to drive traffic to your site. Or perhaps you’re established but have something fresh and exciting to offer, and you need to know how to spotlight it. Maybe you’re interested in learning how to reach a whole new demographic and are unsure how to do that.
To reach out to a new audience online, keep your existing customers interested, or drive conversions, you need to plan your content strategy and SEO carefully. It’s not enough just to launch a product website, announce it on social media, and wait to see what happens. Instead, you’ve got to find a way to amplify your voice.
Initiating a Strategy
Content encompasses everything you use to communicate information to the world: social media, graphics, written communication, and your website itself are included in this category. Your content strategy and SEO should tackle the questions: Who am I trying to reach, What do I need to tell them, and How am I going to do that? MarketMuse’s extensive content strategy guide notes that an effective content strategy outlines business goals and aligns with SEO.
Depending on your company’s scale, you may want to hire someone to help you develop a strategy, manage a team of writers, designers, and developers, and keep an eye on metrics to ensure your messaging is on target and getting the results you need. However, be aware that it can take six months or more to gain traction and that there are some questions you’ll want to ask when hiring an SEO expert.
Here are five steps you can take today to ensure that you successfully communicate about your brand to reach your intended audience.
1. Identify who you want to reach
Regardless of company scale or team size, an effective content strategy begins with research and planning. This step can be time-consuming but is so important. It’s the foundation for building your overall content strategy.
The first rule of content is: know your audience. Who are you trying to talk to and why? Get as specific as you can in this step. For example, identify an age range, gender, if applicable, socioeconomic status, and interests. It is sometimes helpful to create an avatar or character to represent your target market and talk specifically to that person. If you nail your demographic, your message will carry.
Once you know who you’re targeting, make sure what you’re saying to them makes sense. For example, promoting your retirement savings 101 blog cluster and planning tools will not be effective if your language and approach only appeal to a 60-year-old.
2. Sell a lifestyle, not a product
This is one of the trickiest elements of content marketing strategy for any company to master. But, first, it’s important to remember that content isn’t about directly promoting a product or about making a sale. At least, not overtly.
Content strategy is about building relationships and offering something your audience values and needs: information. If your information is solid and you get it in front of the right people, you will build trust and drive conversions over time. It’s helpful to think about strategies employed by large brands – especially what they don’t do.
Athletic shoe companies don’t bore you with all the technical specs of their product; they show you an image of athletes running fast or thriving in their sport. They let you imagine yourself succeeding in the same way. Similarly, the best tech companies don’t talk about RAM or GPUs in their ads. Instead, they show you how sleek you look with the latest gadget. They show you how much that gadget will simplify your daily tasks.
If you work too hard to tell your audience about the details of your product (which may be exciting and important) in your content marketing, you’re going to bore them and lose them.
3. Make sure your content is on point
Great content isn’t necessarily about volume. If what you’re offering is sound, you don’t have to drone on forever. For example, we’re all annoyed by recipe blogs that make you scroll through five pages of irrelevant nonsense to get to what’s of value to you: the recipe.
If you want to avoid being the next recipe blog cliche, ensure your writing and graphics are clean and clearly communicate the data or insights you want to highlight. Plan social media posts to be playful and fun and get to the point right away. Attention spans are minimal when people are scrolling.
Your written content (emails, blogs, website copy) should be clean, clearly written, and well structured. Organize your site to include a search feature, ensure it is responsive to various devices and has multiple easy-to-find navigation options. The key is to eliminate the need for your audience to work to find what they want.
4. Use your digital tools thoughtfully
To ensure your content rises above all that noise online, you absolutely need to include SEO in your content strategy. This is where brands can get a little intimidated, confused, or overzealous, however.
SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is not as esoteric as you might think, but it takes time, research, and effort to implement correctly. SEO can include keywords that help ensure your page shows up in search results, your website’s design and security, and your site’s responsiveness to different screen sizes.
So, what does that mean? Well, the answer to that may vary, but a few essential points will put you on the right track. First, you want to ensure you’re not basing your content strategy on SEO considerations and keywords.
The result will be that your content feels shoehorned around obvious keywords (because it is) and won’t offer much value to readers. Maybe you’ll appear in search results, but that won’t do anything for you once people click on your page and decide there’s nothing valuable. At that point, you’ve lost trust. You may also lose those initial clicks as search algorithms constantly evolve.
The key is ensuring you are offering quality information to your target audience. Make sure that information is clear and that your website is navigable, and then find ways to work in keywords naturally. Also, don’t be afraid to use social media to toot your horn.
5. Post often and repurpose content
In addition to optimizing your website and content, you’ll want to plan a solid social media strategy and use appropriate posting techniques to boost your web traffic and conversions. The good news is that not everything you post has to reinvent the wheel. For example, it is ok to repurpose the same link with slightly different messaging.
It’s also important to remember to post on different platforms for different reasons. If you’re trying to talk to a Gen Z demographic, you’re probably not going to be successful if your entire social media presence is based on Facebook. You might look at Instagram or TikTok instead.
As with blog and website content, you’re not going to be effective if you simply post ad copy on social media. Instead, find innovative and fun ways to draw your audience in. Make them laugh. Tell them how to solve a problem. Teach them a new skill.
And don’t forget to update your blog copy, too. For example, you might have a blog that predicts the best crypto investments in March. You can create an updated version in April without starting from scratch.
If you take the time to do your homework, develop a solid plan, allow your strategy appropriate time to work, and measure results (and use those to revise your plan, and so on), you have a solid foundation for your content marketing presence. Make sure your content is tailored to the right audience, easy to read, easy to navigate, and actionable, and you can’t go wrong.
Image Credit: Karolina Grabowska; Pexels; Thanks!
Connected Medical Devices are Revolutionizing Health Care
The Internet of Things (IoT) may be about to transform almost every aspect of people’s lives. Health care is one industry already seeing significant adoption of IoT technology. Connected medical devices are helping doctors and nurses remotely monitor patients, access health data, and conduct follow-ups online. As a result, IoT in health care could revolutionize the industry over the next few years.
How Does the Health Care Industry Use Connected Devices?
The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) includes various devices used inside and outside health care facilities. In most cases, these items provide a few of the same benefits — including streamlined treatment, reduced risk of error, and greater availability of critical data, like information on patient vitals.
Smart Patient Monitoring Devices
One popular application of IoT in health care is the smart patient monitor. This device continuously collects health care information from a patient, including data on heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, and blood oxygen levels.
These devices help make patient health data more accessible to doctors and nurses inside facilities. A patient’s medical team can quickly and remotely check their vitals from a hospital workstation or a secure device anywhere in the world. The smart patient monitor can also alert staff if someone’s vitals exceed safe levels.
Smart health care wearables and remote patient monitors allow doctors to continue tracking patient vitals without requiring them to remain in the facility. In addition, people who have been recently discharged from the hospital may bring smart patient monitors with them, allowing them to send important health information to doctors without having to return to the hospital for a follow-up. They can also access this information and get a valuable window into their post-release health.
The patient and their doctor can discuss any concerning health information over the internet using a telemedicine video call solution. The doctor can also immediately recall the patient to the hospital if the monitor suggests their health is in danger.
Various IoMT patient monitoring devices exist, ranging from large machines built for hospital settings to lightweight health-tracking wearables people can take with them wherever they go.
Specific use-cases for IoMT monitoring technology include general-purpose smart patient monitors, motion sensors that track the progression of Parkinson’s disease symptoms, and mood sensors that can help doctors manage a patient’s mental health.
Smart Infusion Pumps and Medication Delivery Devices
Correctly dosing and delivering medicine is essential for patient treatment. However, medication errors remain a common challenge in many medical environments. These mistakes can cause serious injuries or adverse reactions that can lead to death.
The IoMT can help prevent medication errors by streamlining the dosing process and delivering IV medicine.
Smart infusion pumps are medication delivery devices that use innovative technology, barcode readers, and drug information libraries to reduce risk when administering IV medicine. The health care worker will designate an area of use — like the adult ICU or NICU — which will automatically configure the pump based on needs. The clinician will then select the medicine they need to administer from an internet drug library, select a concentration and configure the pump’s dose.
Information from the drug library will help prevent some of the most common medication errors — like dosing mistakes and combinations that may lead to health problems.
Some pumps may require that the clinician scans the drug using a barcode on its packaging rather than choosing one from a list.
Most pump systems incorporate a few safeguards that will help reduce the frequency of medication errors. For example, the pump may include the height and weight information of the patient receiving a drug, helping ensure they receive the appropriate dose.
The pump system may also include information on average drug concentrations and dosing units. As a result, it can double-check with health care workers to ensure an unusual dosage is correct, potentially preventing medication errors.
Smart Device Scanners
Manufacturers will often use laser marking to create a unique device identifier (UDI) codes on the surface of connected medical devices like orthopedic implants and medical instruments. They provide a wealth of information about the marked device — including the specific version or model number.
Under current regulations, the manufacturer must provide this code in plain language and a machine-readable format.
Smart medical scanners can read the second version of the UDI instantly, draw on relevant information from cloud-based databases and update records. This makes them a powerful tool for conducting inventory, determining an instrument’s specific model or lot number, and verifying the plain-language portion of a UDI.
These devices are connected to the internet, so they can also be used to update cloud-based records as they scan automatically. For example, hospitals that maintain an online database of critical medical instruments can use a smart scanner to update it with new products.
In practice, these scanners can also make it much easier for health care organizations to comply with traceability requirements. For example, clinicians can use information from the UDI to quickly verify the model number, expiration date, and recall status of a medical instrument or device before it is used.
Clinicians that locate faulty or expired equipment can quickly remove it, ensuring it won’t be used for a procedure.
Smart Pills, Capsules and Medications
New smart pills and capsules can help patients take their medications regularly. They are outfitted with special sensors that activate when they hit the acid in a patient’s stomach. They then communicate with a wearable medical device — like a patch on someone’s chest — signaling that the pill has been taken.
The wearable device that receives the signal can automatically generate a log or report showing the medication was taken successfully.
The connected medical device can also track other information — like the patient’s activity and rest times.
The first smart pill approved by the FDA was Abilify Mycite, which contains aripiprazole, an antipsychotic used to treat conditions like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Patients with these conditions may struggle to remember if they’ve taken their medicine, but missing a dose can cause adverse reactions — including nausea, lightheadedness, anxiety, and a return of symptoms associated with the mental health condition the aripiprazole is meant to treat.
The smart system can help patients track their medication adherence and review patterns when they take their medicine.
Smart pills are not widely used yet, but they may soon help patients and health care providers improve medication adherence and track home-usage.
Future smart pills may also provide additional functionality. For example, those containing onboard sensors could help doctors track a patient’s core temperature, detect intestinal bleeding, or keep tabs on gut health. Many of these pills already exist in an experimental capacity and may become commercially viable by the end of the decade.
The Future of Connected Medical Devices and IoT in Health Care
Connected medical devices can make providing effective health treatment much easier. The right one can streamline care, reduce error risk, and simplify record-keeping.
IoT in health care is growing fast over the next few years. According to Fortune Business Insights, the market may be worth as much as $187.6 billion by 2028, up from just $41 billion in 2020. As a result, new applications of smart medical technology may become widely available.
For example, it may also become standard for health care facilities to adopt connected robots, like those used in Italian hospitals during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Currently used IoMT devices — from smart monitors to smart pills — will likely become much more common over the next few years as the market expands and health care facilities look to adopt devices that make daily work easier.
Image Credit: Provided by the Author; National Cancer Institute; Unsplash; Thank you!
How to Stop Inflation from Deflating Your Savings
No, you aren’t imagining things. Everything costs more than it did before, and these higher prices make it hard to balance the budget while saving and thinking about retirement. But you can stop inflation from deflating your savings!
In April, the Bureau of Labor released the latest data from the Consumer Price Index (CPI), revealing inflation’s steady creep upward hasn’t stopped yet. The rate of U.S. inflation climbed to a whopping 8.5% in March, marking this spike as the most significant increase in the cost of living in 4 decades.
You aren’t alone if you’re struggling to handle prices at their 40-year high. Nearly half of Americans (45%) polled by Gallup last year admitted inflation caused financial hardship at a time when the CPI was just 6.8%. Moreover, of those that reported facing difficulties, 10% revealed their challenges impacted their standard of living.
While the Federal Reserve claims inflation’s bubble will pop soon, experts anticipate the CPI won’t fall below 4% by the year’s end. That means you can expect another year of high inflation bumping up prices.
Is your budget ready? If not, don’t panic. Instead, keep reading to understand more about inflation and what you can do to protect your savings.
Inflation: An Overview
Inflation is not a product of the pandemic, although it may initially seem that way. On the contrary, between lockdowns and labor shortages — and now the Russia-Ukraine crisis — the past 3 years have kept inflation well-fed.
These special circumstances allowed inflation to grow to dizzying heights, but it’s been around a lot longer than COVID.
Have you ever heard your dad tell you a story about buying a bag of candy for a nickel, only for your grandfather to chime in to say he bought the same thing for a penny? They aren’t just yearning for the good old days of their youth. That’s inflation at work.
Inflation is an economic principle describing how the prices of goods and services generally increase over time. Another way to think of it is how your money — or what’s called your purchasing power — decreases in value as time goes on.
Usually, inflation only increases by around 2% each year. And if you’re lucky, your employer matches this increase with an equivalent raise. This zero-sum game means a lot of people may not notice inflation. Sure, things cost more, but you also earn more, so it all evens out.
The problem with today’s record-breaking inflation rate is that prices are climbing far too fast for wages to keep up. While employers have been handing out raises, a survey shows they averaged 3.4% in 2021, less than half of today’s current inflation rate.
With inflation and wages out of balance, you may notice how your dollar doesn’t stretch as far as it used to before the pandemic. Each expense takes up more of your very finite budget as a result.
Americans Are Living Paycheck to Paycheck
Now that everything costs more, many Americans are feeling the financial crunch. According to CNBC, nearly two-thirds of Americans (64%) live paycheck to paycheck today. This isn’t necessarily new. In fact, survey after survey has revealed people have been living this way for nearly a decade.
If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, most, if not all, of your monthly income goes towards making ends meet. With your income tied up with bills, you may have practically no cash for anything else.
Your Paycheck May Not Go As Far — But Don’t Deflate Your Savings
It’s hard to keep up with your savings goals when you live like this. You might even hit pause on savings altogether. And without contributing to savings, Americans increasingly turn to credit cards and short-term personal loans for help in an emergency.
CNBC reports that 56% of Americans could not handle an unexpected $1,000 expense with savings. Most of those without savings would charge credit cards or ask a loved one for some help. But others would go into debt and borrow money online via short-term personal loans to cover unexpected expenses.
While credit cards and short-term personal loans function as emergency backups in unexpected cash crunches, they’re meant as temporary stopgaps for singular expenses. Moreover, borrowing money won’t solve the issue that high inflation is an ongoing problem that will long outlast most cash advances and personal loan terms.
More still, debt can add to your money troubles. If you’re already living paycheck to paycheck, you may not have the cash available to repay your personal loan on time. Late fines and extra interest are soon to follow.
Updating Your Budget with Inflation in Mind
Americans point to high costs preventing them from saving as much as they want, regardless of whether they rely on credit cards or short-term personal loans as crutches.
Unfortunately, there’s no telling just how long high inflation will hang around. Still, one thing is for sure: a higher-than-normal inflation rate will affect prices for the foreseeable future.
Higher prices are the new normal, so it’s time to tweak your budget, updating it for another expensive year. Let’s dive into how you can do that.
1. Make a List of Priorities
When things are tight, you need a plan of action to understand your next move. So sit down and write out your list of priorities. These expenses are the absolute essentials you need to pay each month to keep a roof over your head and food on the table.
Besides housing costs and groceries, this list may include insurance payments, utilities, basic household items, and toiletries. In addition, the minimum payments for personal loans, cash advances, and lines of credit also belong on this list. These minimum payments will help you avoid late fines, extra interest, and credit damage.
This list shows the bare minimum for what you need each month. It serves as a good reminder of what you need to pay first before moving on to other things.
2. Cut Discretionary Expenses
As judge, jury, and executioner of expenses, you should be looking to slash non-essential spending until you have more wiggle room in your budget. Then, the unnecessary expenses (i.e., those you don’t need to lead a safe or comfortable life) should be on the chopping block.
Which expenses didn’t make it on your list of priorities? It can be daunting to say goodbye to the fun things in life, but it’s easier to let go knowing it won’t be forever. You can reintroduce the non-essentials when you start to feel less pressure.
To help you get started, here are some discretionary expenses you can cut:
- Streaming services: If you have multiple streaming subscriptions, pare them down to the one you use most often.
- Subscription boxes: While the average subscription box doesn’t cost a lot, it may be too much if you’re living paycheck to paycheck. Put them on pause until you have more wiggle room in your budget.
- Gym memberships: The average gym membership costs about $600 a year. You can pocket that change by switching to a free at-home workout.
- Takeout: According to The Fool, the average American spends $2,375 on takeout a year. If you eat out multiple times a week, you stand to save a lot by eating at home.
- Alcohol: Happy hours after work and wine with dinner add up. Going dry can help you free up more cash for bills.
Finding it hard to say no when you’re out and about? Apply the 30-day rule. In other words, wait for 30 days before you commit to the purchase. A month is long enough to take the wind out of your sails, revealing the splurge for what it is: a waste of money.
3. Automate Savings
Even at this time, savings are an essential part of your budget. It can help you weather unexpected emergencies, reducing how often you tap into credit cards and short-term personal loans.
Admittedly, saving through high inflation is challenging, so you might want to ignore the usual advice to save 3 to 6 months. But, that’s a goal for another day.
For now, save as much as you can to get started, even if it’s just $10 a month at first. Financial advisor David Ramsey suggests lowering your goal to $1,000 when you’re first starting out.
4. Tweak Your Phone and Internet Package
Having a phone and access to the Internet is as close to essentials as possible nowadays. You might need them for work, or it may be the only way you can contact the outside world. So cutting these expenses for the sake of saving money just doesn’t make sense.
If you’re on an unlimited plan, consider downsizing to a cheaper plan with strict data and talk limits. Be careful not to exceed these limits to ensure you aren’t penalized. You stand to save even more each month if you can stomach a prepaid contract.
5. Update Your Insurance
Like your phone and Internet packages, insurance is another essential with some wiggle room. But first, you’ll want to do some research. Go online to compare other insurance companies to see what they offer. Then, when talking to your current provider, you can leverage this info to know if they’re willing to match the competition.
Another thing you can leverage is your loyalty. If you’ve been with the company for a long time, bring this history up while talking to your provider. They might be willing to cut you a better deal knowing you’re thinking about jumping ship.
You may also get a better deal if you’re willing to bundle your life, home, and auto insurance under one company.
6. Eat Better for Less
Putting food on the table has never been more expensive. But, unfortunately, you can’t precisely cut groceries from your budget!
Meat and dairy have been some of the hardest-hit items in the grocery stores, with bacon, eggs, and beef taking most of the brunt. Now that bacon is 26% more expensive per pound than last year, you might think twice about including it on your breakfast plate.
Plant-based eating promises some financial savings at the grocery store, especially if you stay away from costly prepared meat replacements. Instead, focus on tried-and-true cheap ingredients like lentils and rice.
Following a meal plan is also another great way to keep your spending in check at the supermarket. Make a list of meals you want to eat every week, adjusting your plan for weekly flyers and coupons.
7. Use Less Energy
Your utility bills are taking a bigger bite of your budget, like electricity, water, and gas cost more. According to the Guardian, utility prices in the U.S. rose by 33% last year.
Reducing energy consumption across these utilities can help you control runaway expenses.
One of the biggest things you can do to save is set your thermostat according to the Department of Energy’s recommendations. These tips can help you save as much as 10% of your annual heating and cooling costs.
Summer: If you have an air conditioner running, set it to 78°F when you’re at home. Try increasing the temperature as high as you feel comfortable when you’re out.
Winter: During the cooler months, try to keep your thermostat to 68°F while you’re at home, reducing it even lower when you’re at work or in bed.
8. Reduce Your Fuelling Costs
Between inflation and the Russia-Ukraine crisis squeezing the American fuel supply, drivers can expect to spend more at the pumps. If you can’t reduce how often you’re behind the wheel, you should download an app like GasBuddy to find the lowest gas prices in your area.
More often than not, this ends up being Costco, but they don’t get a membership just to qualify for their gas. So you probably won’t save more at their pumps than what it costs to become an annual member.
Another way to keep your driving costs low is by using gas station loyalty cards so that you can redeem points as often as possible. You can also consider carpooling with local friends and colleagues to share the burden of driving.
9. Learn How to Negotiate
The art of negotiation is a hard-earned skill that can do wonders for your budget. Depending on your strategy and your creditor’s policies, you can push out due dates to take the pressure off your budget and reduce what you owe.
If you aren’t sure how to persuade big companies, check out this script for guidance. When it comes to medical expenses specifically, ask if they offer a financial plan that offsets your costs. In many cases, healthcare businesses are willing to give you a discount if you offer to pay the reduced amount in full immediately.
10. Investigate Financial Assistance
Let’s face it — juggling all your bills as inflation nudges them higher, and higher is hard. Sometimes, not even your best attempts at negotiating bills and saving money at the grocery store will be enough to help you balance your budget.
Reach out to a free credit counseling organization for advice. They can provide more significant insights into how to shrink your budget. But more importantly, they can direct you towards government assistance programs that help you offset the burden of your living expenses.
The Takeaway for :
Although inflation is beyond your control, there are ways you can get back in the financial driver’s seat. As prices continue to rise, your budget is your most crucial resource throughout it all. You can refer to this spending plan to understand your priorities and focus on areas of your spending that need work.
You can reduce your monthly spending and save more, whether it’s unnecessary splurges or excessive fuel spending. Keep these tips in mind for the rest of the year.
But more importantly, know that you aren’t alone in facing these prices. There are resources you can fall back on for more guidance if you can’t balance the budget, no matter how hard you try.
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Image Credit: by Pixabay; Pexels; Thank you!