Dexcom Launches API to Promote Diabetes App Innovation

The move to give entrepreneurs access to patient-approved continuous glucose monitoring data fits with the company's prediction that insulin pumps will become a thing of the past, and most of the heavy lifting of delivery will be done by a smartphone.

Dexcom, known to people with diabetes for making continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) systems, has handed a valuable tool to developers of compatible diabetes software with the launch of a public application programming interface, or API.

Release of the API will allow third-party developers to connect with patient-authorized CGM data to create software applications, which Dexcom hopes will drive more digital solutions for payers, providers, and, most critically, people living with the disease.

“In launching this developer platform, Dexcom combines our CGM data expertise with the creativity of the developer ecosystem to enable new solutions and business models in the treatment and management of diabetes,” Annika Jimenez, Dexcom’s senior vice president of data, said in a statement. “Dexcom believes in data mobility and customer choice.”

The announcement came with an endorsement from Jeff Dachis, founder and CEO of One Drop, a digital diabetes management solution that uses Dexcom’s API. “This partnership will help drive innovation and will bring about more affordable, accessible, scalable, and effective solutions. It’s a big win for people with diabetes.”

Developers in the United States can register for the API at http://developer.dexcom.com. Companies already taking part include Tidepool, Rimidi, Evidation, Ensa, and App Practice, in addition to One Drop.

Rakesh Patel, MD, of App Practice, said in the announcement that the availability of the data would allow clinicians to make timely changes and insulin adjustments more effectively. “Access to patient data like this enables clinicians to dramatically improve patient care and can lower healthcare costs,” Patel said.

Access to patient data has shaped the race for diabetes solutions and marked several of the partnerships among tech giants, diabetes startups, or pharmaceutical companies in the past few years. There’s also been concern that alignment of payers with dominant technology companies that control large amounts of data could stifle innovation. In particular, the transaction between UnitedHealthcare and Medtronic drew ire among patients and advocacy groups in 2016.

Dexcom, meanwhile, has made it clear it does not want to be in the insulin pump business; a senior company official said recently the company foresees a future in which most of the heavy lifting of insulin delivery will be done by a patient’s smartphone.

By creating the public API, the company lowers costs for several smaller entrepreneurs and invites new ones to participate. Also, Dexcom encourages payers to connect to the platform, just as experts foresee growth in CGM among patients with type 2 diabetes (T2D). In the United States, 30 million Americans have diabetes; only about 1.25 million have type 1 diabetes, whereas the clear majority have T2D.