Medtronic CareLink and Browsers of Yesterday

516892_68656024On the FAQ pages of Carelink. it plainly states:

Which web browsers can be used to access CareLink Personal software?

The system is currently validated to work with Microsoft® Internet Explorer® version 7, 8 and 9, Internet Explorer 10 Desktop, Apple® Safari® 4, 5 and 6, and Mozilla® Firefox® 5.0.1. Other browsers might still work although Medtronic Diabetes is not able to guarantee proper operation of those browsers.

 

I use a Mac. (According to Dexcom, I’m already a complete loser, as their CGM software won’t even run on a Mac unless you use a PC emulator program.) I have two browsers downloaded on my system: Safari (which comes standard on most Macs) and Firefox (which is easily downloaded and what I use occasionally for some banking transactions that demand Firefox).

I know that CareLink works on a Mac, because I’ve uploaded my pump data before on this laptop. So, the other evening, when I needed to upload data so that my trainer and I could look at it together while talking on the phone to adjust settings, I thought it would be easy.

I got this screen when I went to Medtronic’s CareLink link on their website:

Screen Shot of Safari Browser

My Safari was “too up-to-date”, so I couldn’t access CareLink through that browser.

Well, shoot. OK. Fine. I’ll fire up the Firefox browser I have… Version 21. (Not Firefox 5.)

Too up-to-date.

And by the way, if I wanted to download Internet Explorer right now, it’s IE 10 – or 11. And wait, they don’t have a version for Mac.

Frustration

If I didn’t have an amazing husband who is a web developer and happened to be home and was willing to sacrifice a pocket protector to the Geek God, I would have been not been able to upload my data. (He somehow configured something and magically, I have a Firefox browser that is…workable.)

I was able to examine the data that I uploaded, but I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be for others who expect that along with the latest technology they get from Medtronic, they get an upload system that will only work with the browsers of yesterday.

Yes, I expressed my opinion to the support team at Medtronic. I was polite, but I did use the phrase: “Unacceptable.” People who know me smile, as that means I’m pretty angry.

Will they do anything? Time will tell, which is pretty much been my phrase about this experience. What I do know is that it takes just one web developer to fix it and make sure that it works with all systems when there is an upgrade… I’m sure they can spare someone in their IT department.

Like I told you before, Medtronic, while allowing me to trial the system and all that comes with it, does not expect that everything I say will be rainbows and glitter about my experience.

The diabetes community talks incessantly (and I believe, sometimes to the wall) about the crucial need for integrated technology to make our lives easier to manage our diabetes. The Medtronic MiniMed 530G with Enlite is an integrated pump and continuous glucose monitor (and that threshold suspend, which I’ll write about soon… promise), but it’s an utter fail if you can’t use the browser… or two browsers…. or system… that you have to review the data and reports. Fail. (It’s not just Medtronic… Dexcom has failed me, too.) What good is the data if you can’t get to it?

Parting Thought

Heads up, Medtronic IT department. Please update your CareLink application and browser compatibility. (I’m not going to even talk about Chrome, which you supposedly don’t support at all…)

P.S. I’ll write about the actual reports that CareLink provides in another post. They do deserve a post of their own. But jeez.

Come. On.

 

 

 

 

 

25 comments

  1. Tony Ardeel

    I had this problem too. It’s not the browser that’s the problem it’s the operating system. Mac recently released OS Mavericks, which is not yet supported. If you haven’t upgraded yet from Mountain Lion, you’re fine. If you upgraded to Mavericks, or recently bought a Mac that already had Mavericks, OS 10.9, you have to use Firefox with a work-around that makes Firefox think it’s lightyears different than the current version. Good ol’ FDA approval stuff. However, if you didn’t do the Mavericks upgrade you’re golden on Safari! :) But Carelink can still be used on a Mac, unlike other programs… Unless you have a copy of Windows installed on your Mac… sigh…

    • theperfectd

      Tony,
      You’ve told me more than the person at Medtronic and the browser error did. Yes, I have Maverick, because it’s been out for a while. The upload is based on browsers and Java… and this is not an FDA approval issue, according to my friends.
      All of this just proves what I’m saying. The majority of individuals are not going to try to find a workaround. They want it to work, because they have committed to a very expensive pump and CGM… but can’t access the data? Not cool.

      • Tony Ardeel

        I agree it’s been out long enough it should have been fixed by now. I’m still certain that the FDA has to approve the reporting methods and software, etc. Which is why other CGM makers, meter makers, and pump makers haven’t bothered with Mac. Mac is still only less than 20% of the marketplace so they focus on the bigger computer operating systems like Windows. Makes sense, except to we Mac users! I’m not currently wearing the Medtronic, but plan on switching back tonight. I’m learning about pumping! I’ve noticed a lot of people don’t blog or post manufacturer names and I’m not sure why. Maybe I’ll learn someday. I’ve only been pumping since November 2013 and have used both the Medtronic 530g and the Omnipod with Dexcom G4. I have a lot of opinions, but don’t want to clog your blog with them! :) I’m LADA classified by the way…

  2. Erin

    It took me two months and help from my IT guy at work to get Carelink to work. I was also beyond frustrated.

  3. Anonymous Diabetes Insider

    This is one of the more unfair criticisms of a product with many shortcomings. The CareLink software interacts with your pump. That makes CareLink a Serious Medical Device according to the FDA and many others, including Medtronic. This is no mere IT issue of flipping some switch: every minor change required to support things like the OS X issue Tony describes requires a team of developers to create the solution, tons of paperwork to document those changes and their efficacy, checks that those changes didn’t break anything else, teams of engineers to check that CareLink still does what it’s supposed to do… the list goes on and takes months to complete. This is not completely Medtronic’s fault and it’s not completely the FDA’s fault either, but both have made the process far more difficult than it needs to be.

    We all want this software to be safe and effective; this means these checks have to happen and that documentation has to be complete. But those steps could be made less onerous. It’d be neat to see the d-Blog community explore this process and start to understand why these big companies can’t just pop out awesome new tools like those made by John Costik, Tidepool, and the other d-Hackers. From the inside, it’s very frustrating that no one in this community has taken the time to understand that.

    • Tony Ardeel

      But the software only harvests data that is already present in the pump. Shouldn’t need FDA approval. Shouldn’t have to depend on hacks. I’m frustrated that people have to depend on hacks, like the Firefox hack for those on Mac OS Mavericks! I won’t promote hacks… sorry.

    • theperfectd

      Wow. Seeing as you are using Tor and a fake address, it appears that I hit a nerve. Good.
      It also appears that you know much more than the majority of us how this works. Even better.
      I’m aware that it doesn’t just take a flip of a switch. I’m aware that it involves the FDA to some degree.

      What doesn’t take FDA involvement is the clear transparency of error messages (which the screen shot shows…). Medtronic can give more information that what is currently on that page. In fact, I just spent time talking with my contact at the Medtronic Marketing department about changing the wording, so that no patient trying to access the existing data that the Medtronic 530G with Enlite system collects is left wondering how to access that data. (And for the record, I do hold a Master’s degree in MIS, which I chose to pursue. The diabetes? No choice. It was mandatory.) So, I’m all up on the machinations of change meetings, documentation, and system checks. I am also aware that Medtronic has an extensive IT group and engineers.

      If you’ve read my blog (although I’m not sure you’ve read much more than this post), you will understand that I am a proponent for technology and that without companies like Medtronic, most of us would still be injecting insulin and dipping test sticks into urine. We’ve come a long way. The tools that others are creating are a response from the inability to manipulate data that the patient provides to the existing large companies. In one of my posts, and the video I created for The DiabetesMine Innovation Summit last November, I express that the ability to take the data from various tools I use to manage my diabetes and overlay them will only help me – and the rest of the community – live healthier with the existing tools created by large companies. (I’ve been a loyal Medtronic user for almost ten years and am doing this trial to better my understanding of the new system.)

      If you’d like to have the diabetes community to better understand the process and how “big companies” work within the FDA’s parameters to comply with safety and efficacy measures, I’d welcome (and I’m sure the diabetes community would readily agree) a guest post and insight from someone on the inside. I just won’t do it from an anonymous individual, so please feel free to contact me privately.

      From the outside, it’s very frustrating that no one in the “large companies” has taken the time to understand that not all of us are luddites using older browsers and systems and would appreciate an open dialog with large companies that don’t involve anonymous comments on blogs.

      Thanks for your comment. Very, very insightful from a company insider. Appreciate you taking the time to post.

  4. SarahK

    I’ve honestly been using Chrome for uploading and viewing reports the whole time. Not sure why they “supposedly” don’t support it. Either way, I can’t upload at home because I have Mac OS 10.9. Had I known Carelink wasn’t going to work, I wouldn’t have installed it. It would be helpful to have an email or alert go out to customers that if they own a system running Mac OS that their Carelink Software wasn’t going to work with the upgrade yet. (And yes, I can’t WAIT to see your opinion of the reports. I’ll leave my opinion for that one.)

  5. Scott E

    The only time I ever use Internet Explorer anymore is to upload Carelink data. (I also am, it seems, the last holdout to still use a PC, as evidenced by my companions at Medtronic’s advocates forum. That alone should’ve illustrated the need for Mac-compatibility. But I digress).

    I have the page bookmarked (or “Favorited”, a verbified term for what IE likes to call it), but I get that same screen as you when I click the link to go directly to the Carelink page, only it says I’m using Mozilla. Odd. However, navigating to the page, or manually typing the URL in the address bar works, then I’m golden – unless I need to reinstall Java…which happens a lot.

    And by the way, that screen where you choose what you are using to communicate with the pump: the picture of the Contour NextLink is actually a Contour USB. That irks me every time.

  6. Laddie

    I just bought my first MacBook to try to wean myself off the frustrations of Windows. But there is some reassurance that we still have a Windows 7 desktop so I can access my Dexcom data. I’m still using Diasend on the Windows computer and have no idea if it works with Apple or not. The long term solution to this is something like Tidepool which will manage all of our data no matter what device it is coming from and no matter what device we are using to access the data. Not sure if I’ll see it in my lifetime….

      • david

        Carelink is web based too, IT DOES NOT WORK WITH CURRENT OPERATING SYSTEMS, anyone can cut through the issue by lying to the carelink servers using a custom browser UAS (in Safari, enable the developer menu in the preferences then you can have a custom UAS), Medtronic just fail to follow the FDA advice from Jan 2002, and hide behind BS. Your own computer is NOT a medical device, you simply use it to read data that originally came from a medical device. They simply need to stop BOMBING users for having computers patched and running current operating system software and forcing users to use old vulnerable software. Diasend@ probably have an easier time with the FDA, their software is developed in Sweden, jumps through EU regulatory hoops first, a big chunk of EU regulatory data says to the FDA, that on balance the systems work OK, so the regulatory process is a little easier since the corresponding EU eyes have already looked over the data.

  7. Howard Look

    Hey Christel,

    Great post! We all share your frustrations. Here’s a quick workaround to get CareLink uploads working on your shiny new Mac using Safari. I do this with Mac OS 10.9.2 and Safari 7.0.3, which I believe are both the latest and greatest, on relatively new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro.

    In Safari, go to carelink.minimed.com. You should see the error message as in your post.
    From the Safari menu, choose Preferences, then hit Advanced.
    On the Advanced panel, choose “Show Develop menu in menu bar.”
    Now close the preferences panel.
    From the Develop menu, choose User Agent > Safari 6.1.
    Now you should be able to login to CareLink.

    If you haven’t updated your Java plugin in a while, you may need to do that, too. You’ll also need to accept the scary Java runtime security warnings. It’s OK.

    One more issue: The old CareLink USB dongles (the beige sticks) don’t work with modern Mac. They don’t conform to the USB standard so newer Macs (with USB 3.0) reject them. Fortunately, the Bayer Contour Link Next USB sticks will talk to your Medtronic pump, and they are pretty nice BGM’s as well.

    I hope that helps. I’ll address Anonymous Diabetes Insider’s comment separately.

    Cheers,
    Howard Look
    CEO, Tidepool
    http://tidepool.org

    • Ja'fr Yirka

      r.e. Howard’s post on how to get Safari to work; You’ll also need to add https://carelink.minimed.com to Java’s security in settings. I couldn’t get past the next error, though, from Carelink, which was it could’t install a directory and I need to run as administrator. I think I am. I did get it to completely work with Firefox. You need to install an add on to use a workaround similar to the Safari one. Here’s the link; http://johnwatne.dyndns.org/?p=537. Worked great for me.

  8. Howard Look

    Anonynous Diabetes Insider, you bring up some important points, and I share some of your frustration as well.

    Indeed, today, the FDA considers software that device companies submit _with_ their devices to be accessories to that device, and therefore subject to the same regulatory approval process as the device itself (Class2/510k for an insulin pump, Class3/PMA for a CGM). This is especially challenging for Tidepool’s apps, since we display CGM data.

    On the bright side, the FDA understand that this is a broken model, and they have outlined a process by which a device makers can break the software-device linkage. It’s not pretty (510k, de novo, PMA, appeal, …) but a device maker can step up and do it. And doing so will help everyone.

    Here’s what device companies, including Medtronic, can to _today_: Document and publish the communication protocol for your devices. This is not delivering a new product, it is simply publishing an existing protocol. This will allow other companies, including Tidepool, to deliver robust software that implements that documented protocol. Yes, we can reverse engineer, but we shouldn’t have to. Device makers should be doing the right thing for the patient, which is to let them have a choice in how they access and use their own data.

    Tidepool will be going through the regulatory process. We will file an FDA master file for our platform, and our apps will be regulated. We are right there with you, ADI. Let’s meet in the middle with a documented, supported protocol.

    Regards,
    Howard Look
    CEO, Tidepool
    http://tidepool.org

  9. Ja'fr Yirka

    I can’t use CareLink on my MAC, nor on my wif’e’s PC. It’s running 8.1. I get all the way to needing to install the USB driver. Then I get an error message that I need to run as an administrator, which I already am. Two days and still no response from MiniMed.

    • Ja'fr Yirka

      Actually, before anyone comments, I spoke in haste concerning the PC. With a little patience, I got past the administrator issue. I’ve also been able to get in on my MAC, setting the ‘develop’ option mentioned. :)

  10. Mike Madden (@MikeMadden)

    Has anyone had any luck getting 10.9.2 to recognize either the USB dongle or the Bayer NextLink meter? Neither my work computer (an early 2009 20-inch iMac) nor my personal one (a mid-2011 13-inch MacBook Air) have been able to see the device as anything other than “composite USB device” since upgrading to Mavericks. I can boot from a USB drive that has a clone of my work computer running Mountain Lion that I made before upgrading, and read my pump data that way, but I’d love to get it to work more normally.

  11. Mike

    and if you are on Windows, unsupported Browser – just use Internet Explorer, hit F12 for developer tools and set the user agent to version 9 or 10 of Internet Explorer.
    Just tested; works like charme.

  12. Pingback: Where I’m At With This… | theperfectd™
  13. Mark

    Are any of these workarounds successful if the Mac computer can’t detect the Carelink USB device/stick when plugged in? I Have the grey/white about 4 yrs old device. The Bayer BGM next link is now available in Canada as of June 2/14 but you’ll have to phone Bayer to receive one and wait 2 to 3 weeks for delivery. I hope this will work because its been 7 months with a Mac desktop and monthly visits to a diabetic clinic to read my Medtronic pump. This site has been very helpful thanks

Speak up. Let your voice be heard. (P.S. I have to approve your voice to stop the spammy spam spam that I get. Please, it's not you. It's me. No, wait. It's the spammers. )

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s