FreeStyle Libre 2 glitch reveals tech vulnerabilities.
Diabetes is a major problem on a global scale. Around the world, millions upon millions of people deal with the health impacts of diabetes, most of whom have the type 2 version of the disease. As part of living with diabetes, monitoring glucose levels is an ongoing, daily task, which has gotten easier thanks to advances in technology.
The FreeStyle Libre 2 is one of the most popular devices in the world for individuals to monitor blood glucose. Once the small sensor has been implanted in the body of the affected person, they can use an app to connect with the device and get a real-time look at how their blood sugar levels are doing. This is vital information that can inform their decisions regarding things like food, medication, exercise, and even whether or not to seek medical attention.
Most smartphone users are familiar with the problem of apps not working or not working properly after an update is run. While app updates are meant to add functionality, address bugs, and patch up security holes, things don’t always go as planned. Sometimes, app updates cause problems, and that seems to be what happened in this case.
After running an update, users in the UK reported that their FreeStyle Libre 2 stopped working properly. The regular fixes for faulty apps – like deleting them and reinstalling – didn’t get the job done, and the app was soon taken off the App Store entirely in the UK. Users on Android devices do not seem to be affected by this issue.
It’s troubling that such an important app that people use to monitor a key aspect of their health could suddenly just stop working and become unavailable. For users of this app who are managing their diabetes on a daily basis, they probably never considered the possibility that it would drop offline and be unavailable for a period of time. Technology tends to work so well most of the time that it’s easy to think of it as perfect. It’s not, of course, and failures in technology can be jarring when they do occur.
Of course, it’s one thing for a random app – like a game or streaming service – to go down for a while. That might be annoying, but it’s not really a big deal. When an app plays such a notable role in the health of millions, however, the story is different, and more serious questions need to be asked about the underlying structure of the system.
It seems likely that the functionality of the FreeStyle Libre 2 will be back up and running soon for users on iOS. However, this event is a good reminder that while technology has a ton to offer, too much dependence on a single tool or device can leave us vulnerable. Understanding other ways or options to get the care we need is an important lesson whether it applies to blood sugar or many other aspects of physical and mental health.