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Diabetes monitoring app suffers weekend outage

Patients using Dexcom's glucose monitoring technology were in the dark about their blood sugar levels

Photo (c) AndreyPopov - Getty Images
Dexcom, a technology company that makes blood sugar monitors that help diabetes patients monitor their readings on a real-time basis, has confirmed an outage over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend that interrupted service.

The device is worn by patients like a patch and has a tiny sensor that is inserted beneath the skin. It has become popular because it eliminates the need to prick the finger to access blood.

Beginning Saturday, patients reported they no longer received regular reports on their blood sugar levels. The service was back on Monday but reported as “intermittent.”

Dexcom told CNBC that the glitch was in the app’s feature that allows monitoring on Apple and Android mobile devices. The company said it learned of the issue early Saturday and traced it to what it called a server malfunction.

The company said the issue was not related to any updates or changes to the software because there haven’t been any recently. It suspects that a server overload is the root cause of the problem. While there may still be issues, the company said the situation has “significantly improved” since Saturday.

A sensor beneath the skin

Dexcom’s device consists of a monitor and “one-touch applicator” that inserts a small sensor just beneath the skin. The sensor continuously measures glucose levels and sends data wirelessly to a display device through a transmitter.

Patients use a small touch screen receiver or smart device to display real-time glucose data. The simplicity of the system and the fact that it provides real-time monitoring is one reason for the product’s popularity.

According to the company, the device takes a measurement of blood sugar every five minutes, up to 288 times a day. It uses graphics to display the speed and direction that glucose levels are heading.

Carrie Diulus, a patient with type 1 diabetes who uses Dexcom’s blood sugar monitor, told CNBC there was a 40-hour gap before she was notified that the monitoring was not working. She calls it “a big concern” since she has grown reliant on the monitor to keep her blood sugar levels in check.

More than a million Americans have type 1 diabetes. Patients must keep close track of their blood sugar levels so they know whether their body needs more sugar or an increase in insulin.

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