Review of Abbott Freestyle Libre CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitoring) System: Major Software Problems

First of all, I would like to point out that I definitely would never ever give up the incredible CGM sensor technology and return to just a few fingersticks a day. That said, there are very significant problems due to the very poor software design decisions made.

When I refer to software, I am referring to the software installed on the CGM reader device — which could presumably be quite easily updated whenever the reader is connected to a computer (which must be done every now and then anyways in order to transfer data between the reader and a computer via a USB cable).

Almost all of the problems with the Abbott Freestyle Libre software are probably caused by a very condescending attitude of the software developers responsible for designing the software towards the capability of patients with respect to technology. The entire device has only 1 hardware button, and almost all interaction with the device is managed via a touchscreen interface. I cannot fathom how any company having anything to do with diabetes mellitus patients (in this case it doesn’t even matter whether we’re talking about diabetes mellitus type 1 or diabetes mellitus type 2) could design an implementation so heavily reliant on a touchscreen interface, as it has been very well known since the very beginning of diabetes mellitus management over a century ago that one of the quite common complications of diabetes mellitus is visual impairment (let alone complete blindness). This is so incredibly unfathomable that it leads me to lose faith in the entire health care industry, which we normally expect to be somewhat regulated.

Now back to the software design issues, which are also very significant — and considering the severity of the software design failures, perhaps even more important. The most grave error is undoubtedly a software design decision which must be described as at the very least remarkably prejudiced towards patients. As remarkable as this sounds, there are actually algorithms incorporated in the software to prevent patients from being able to document their diabetes management. I kid you not: extra lines of code were written simply to prevent (or not allow) patients to enter data! Any persons responsible for this decision should be immediately fired and no longer allowed to work on any healthcare projects whatsoever!! Documentation is crucial to diabetes management — the decision to disallow it is an unpardonable sin.

Abbott should correct this inexcusable error immediately.

There are many more lesser errors in the software design, but if Abbott would simply change this most significant error, then many of the other errors could be solved through quite simple workarounds. This error alone, however, makes adequate diabetes management and documentation impossible.

I will end this post here. This software design failure is probably far more important than all other design failures combined. Let me add that I contacted Abbott several months ago, hoping to help them to resolve some of the issues with their Freestyle Libre software problems, but to this day I have not so much as received any response whatsoever. It seems that this company actually acts according to the motto: “ignorance is bliss”.

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