Dexcom's technology chief admits that the maker of continuous blood sugar monitoring systems was caught flat-footed by a technology outage over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, and was ill-equipped to properly inform users of the problem.
Because of a server glitch, a large number of Dexcom's customers, who rely on the company's technology to manage their diabetes treatment, weren't alerted to potentially dangerous changes in their blood glucose levels. The issue was of particular concern to parents who use Dexcom's system to monitor their kids' health.
“It was a complete surprise,” said Jake Leach, Dexcom's chief technology officer, in an interview late Monday, after CNBC published a story on the ongoing problem. Leach said the company didn't have any scheduled updates over the weekend. “This is a real learning opportunity to look at our system architecture.”
Dexcom acknowledged that the bug affected a “large portion” of its users in the U.S. who rely on its Follow feature, which lets users share their glucose readings with caregivers or family members. It began very early Saturday morning, with some parents saying they figured out something was wrong after their kids went to bed Friday night.
The company says it has a system for monitoring technology problems 24 hours a day and recognized what was happening right away though it didn't know that the outage was so widespread and that it was expanding. Leach said that over the weekend, Dexcom pulled in its internal engineers to work on restoring the system and recruited help from its technology infrastructure partners.
Dexcom relies on Google's cloud service and also uses some Microsoft technology. Almost immediately, Leach's team started reaching out to Google to see if it could troubleshoot the problem. Microsoft also offered to help fix what had rapidly become Dexcom's largest ever glitch.