What AV Integrators Can Learn from Dexcom Diabetes Monitor Glitch

Feature on Dexcom glucose monitors that sends alerts to parents when children’s blood sugar gets too low stops working—and company didn’t notify anyone.

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What AV Integrators Can Learn from Dexcom Diabetes Monitor Glitch

Dexcom, a San Diego company that makes sensors used by people with diabetes to measure their blood sugar, recently incurred the wrath of parents whose children use the monitors when the feature that sends notifications when a patient’s level gets too low stopped working—and no one knew about it.

Sales of Dexcom’s continuous glucose monitors climbed to $396 million in the third quarter of 2019, up 49% from a year ago, and shares have increased 264% over the past two years, giving it a market capitalization of $20 billion.

None of that mattered to parents who rely on the sensors to literally keep their children alive.

The alerts, a feature called Dexcom Follow, stopped working last week but Dexcom didn’t notify parents who were using it to help monitor their children with type 1 diabetes of the glitch for several days.

Here’s more from the recent report about the glitch and the subpar response by Dexcom that could have been fatal:

“They have all of our phones,” said Carrie Dulius, an orthopedic surgeon who has type 1 diabetes and who uses the Dexcom device. “They have access to our app. They have all of our emails. And yet nothing was done in an attempt to alert people that this was a potentially dangerous situation.”

Parents took to social media — and then the press — with stories of how the two-day technical glitch was making it harder to manage their children’s conditions. Two parents told the New York Times about realizing their phone app had failed only when their children’s blood sugar was dangerously low.

Another parent told CNBC the feature’s failure made him afraid to drop his daughter off at school. Similar stories appeared on Dexcom’s social media pages.

James McIntosh, a spokesman for Dexcom, said that company became aware of the issue early Saturday morning. The company did not release any updates or changes to cause the issue, but said it appears a server overload occurred due “to an unexpected system issue that generated a massive backlog.”

On Monday night, the company said that the follow service had been restored to “near normal performance.” Some users might still have trouble logging in; they should try again and submit a request to the company if the problem persists.

Don’t Be the Next Dexcom

If I were the parent of a child with diabetes—or a diabetic myself, I’d be much more upset that Dexcom officials apparently knew about this glitch for a couple of days and never told me about it, even to say, “we’re working on it” so those in life-or-death struggles with the disease could find alternate ways to measure levels.

Here’s hoping those in the AV integration world are better when it comes to notifying their customers of a glitch with their technology—or are aware enough of the issue to fix it before the customer ever knows anything was wrong in the first place.

AV systems aren’t typically life or death, but glitches within them can have widespread effects, especially in applications that are considered mission-critical, such as command and control rooms. Truth be told, though, a malfunctioning videoconferencing system can be mission-critical to the CEO looking to close a big deal.

Learn a lesson from Dexcom—and make sure you’re honest with your customers when something goes wrong. When you lose their trust, chances are good you’ll also lose their business.