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The Senior List surveyed medical alert system subscribers and found that customer satisfaction results are mixed (at best). The survey which spanned late 2013 to February of 2014 illustrated how vulnerable medical alert providers are to competition in this space. A full third of respondents noted that when their agreement (contract) was up, they were leaving their current provider. This is in stark contrast to 18% of respondents that said they were very satisfied, and they would recommend their medical alert provider. Key takeaway: There are some really good medical alert providers… and some to stay away from.
The medical alert landscape is changing. This industry is going digital and mobile. An industry that once tethered users to within 600 feet of the home (base station), has grown wings. What was once dubbed “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” has now morphed into “I’m going shopping, but just in case I’ll take my medical alert system along”.
A number of manufacturers now monitor their users via a cellular signal just like the phone in your pocket. This allows family members a safety-net in case of emergencies. Another nice feature of cellular based medical alert systems is that they have built in GPS tracking to locate users if needed.
If you’re interested in the good, the bad, and the ugly of medical alert systems make yourself familiar with the comments section while you browse through our product reviews. Folks here aren’t afraid to speak up… Especially if they’re not happy. Keep this in mind when you’re taking in comments from any product review site however. Folks expect providers to at least meet expectations, and when they don’t, there can be a backlash.
What’s interesting (and telling) is to see the response (or lack thereof) by providers after a misstep. Quality medical alert providers are transparent, responsive and fair to their customers. Stay away from the ones that are rigid, secretive and unresponsive.
Lesson learned: Do your homework. Ask the right questions. Know your rights. Read the fine print.
The folks at OneCall Medical Alert reached out to The Senior List on Twitter and asked us to share some information regarding one of our favorite topics. That topic: “How to Choose A Personal Emergency Response System” (also known as a medical alert system). They offer some good advice that’s worth sharing. Weather you’re choosing a mobile medical alert system or a traditional (in-home) style medical alert system, you’ll want to make sure that the provider can answer the following questions (special thanks to the folks at OneCall):
Choosing the Right Medical Alert System
- Is the provider accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB)? The BBB’s mission is “to be the leader in advancing marketplace trust.” The BBB says they “see trust as a function of two primary factors – integrity and performance. Integrity includes respect, ethics and intent. Performance speaks to a business’s track record of delivering results in accordance with BBB standards and/or addressing customer concerns in a timely, satisfactory manner.” That said, there are a whole lot of businesses that have high ratings on the BBB, and just like any directory site you can’t take it as the gospel. You’ve go to look around at other reputable review sites like Angie’s List and (of course) The Senior List.
- Are you locked into a long-term contract? We agree with the folks at OneCall. Unless you absolutely trust the medical alert provider you decide to choose, don’t sign a long-term contract! There are plenty of reputable providers out there that don’t push these silly contracts. Companies like GreatCall, Philips Lifeline and OneCall are good examples of no-contract alert systems. (*Note that OneCall does require 3 months of prepaid service at activation.)
- Does the medical alert provider have multiple emergency call centers? This is probably a good question to ask, but more importantly how dependable is the call center? If you search around for medical alert system reviews, you’ll probably receive some feedback on this topic. OneCall says that you should also “ask where their emergency call center is located, if they have more than one emergency call center, and if a contingency plan is in place in case a call center is shut down” (because of a storm or other natural disaster). These are great questions!
- Is the system easy to set up and test? You’ll want to be clear on how to set up the device in your home, AND how to test it (on a regular basis). Medical alert systems are not doing you any good if they aren’t in good working order. Further inquiries need to be made regarding maintenance (batteries need to be tested and/or replaced,coverage area needs to be tested and retested, etc.).
- Does the provider have flexible payment options? Most top providers do have options (monthly, quarterly, annual) but regardless of your payment option, make sure you understand what the implications are if your loved one decides to leave the provider (for another), or is no longer in need of the medical alert system (perhaps they move into a care facility, or they pass away).
These are great questions to ask when evaluating a medical alert provider. We’d recommend these questions in conjunction with our popular post entitled Medical Alert Systems: The Top 10 Questions You Should Ask Before Buying.
Know Before You Go - It will save you one heck of a headache!
Back in June we wrote about the delayed launch of Philips new flagship medical alert system called GoSafe. We wrote:
“The new Philips GoSafe product is the latest in a line of newer mobile medical alert systems which uses the same cellular signal as your cell phone. Instead of being tethered to a home phone-line, the consumer can take these new devices with them wherever they go (out to work in the yard, to the mall, or to a doctor’s appointment). This new mobility feature is what separates the new mobile devices from their traditional (tethered) cousins.” — The Senior List.com
Earlier this year, Philip’s representatives told The Senior List to expect a commercial launch of GoSafe around fall of 2013. Now Philips tells us GoSafe will launch sometime around December of this year. We aren’t sure what the delay is, but these things occur all the time in the medical device industry. Frankly, you’re better off getting it right (before getting out of the gate) when you have a product launch of this magnitude. You only get one chance at a national (or global) launch. All Philips has to do is look at Big Red (Verizon Wireless) to see how to screw-up the national launch of a much anticipated new medical alert system (we’re talking about you SureResponse). Someone once said “better to be safe than sorry”… We’re guessing Philips is taking this to heart, and wants to get it right the first time.
In advance of the launch, Philips has been putting together some marketing resources including this video (below). We’re actually excited for this entry into the mobile medical alert system market. The GoSafe has all the makings of brand-leader if Philips executes on their marketing strategy, AND focuses on customer satisfaction.
We’ll keep an eye on this sector as it continues to evolve. We’re guessing the best is yet to come when it comes to safety for seniors outside the home. The GoSafe might just be the best of the bunch, but we’ll have to wait and see.
If you’ve visited The Senior List before you know that we love to post about technology, and how it affects the lives of boomers and seniors. One way we do this is through product reviews, and another is through informative posts about the latest happenings in eldercare. Some of the most interesting information comes from YOU (The Senior List community). When readers become engaged, the comments come alive. When the comments come alive, we can all relate and learn from each other.
Top Home Based Medical Alert Systems
One example of this is a popular post we wrote back in 2012, highlighting many of the top home based medical alert systems on the market. That particular post offers a nice list of “tethered” (to a traditional home phone line) medical alert systems, with links to product reviews. What is really interesting is the feedback in the comments located below that article. There’s a lot of great information located on that page, and we’d like to thank those of you that have shared your experiences. One of our chief goals is to continue to build a community that offers advice to others… A helping hand if you will!
“When readers become engaged, the comments come alive. When the comments come alive, we can all relate and learn from each other.”
List of Mobile/Cellular Based Medical Alert Systems
If you’re searching for a list of mobile medical alert systems (cellular based), you’ll find that here on The Senior List as well. We’ve reviewed a number of the top alert systems for seniors including GreatCall’s 5Star, the LifeTrac SecuraTrac, and the SureResponse from Verizon. We’d like to encourage our readers to utilize the comments to voice your opinion following each post if you are so inclined. In doing so, you’ll be providing feedback to others that could prove extremely valuable in their search for the right fit (and function) for any of the devices we discuss here on The Senior List. Don’t forget to offer praise where it’s due either, there are a number of fantastic medical alert system providers out there offering great services to boomers and seniors.
If you (or someone you know) is currently using a medical alert system, we encourage you to take our Medical Alert System Customer Satisfaction Poll (located in the right hand side-bar). Have a great weekend!
Latest Product Review: SureResponse Needs More Product Support
The Verizon SureResponse is one of the newer medical alert systems on the market today. This entry has great features in this space, HOWEVER Verizon’s execution thus far has been far from satisfactory. The SureResponse is mobile/cellular driven, offers GPS tracking, and can connect your loved ones to caregivers (or family members) if necessary.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is an updated product review based on feedback from users in our community. Click here to read the original SureResponse review and note the community comments. You’ll note in this original that we stated that we’d “be looking forward to monitoring their success with this mobile medical alert system” and (with your feedback), many now have a new outlook on this device. We do expect Verizon to improve their support of this product in the future.
Product Info: SureResponse Medical Alert
- Name: Verizon SureResponse
- Website Info: Verizon Wireless – SureResponse
- Auto Fall Detection? : No
- Equipment Cost: $229.99 (retail) OR 19.99 with a 2 year plan (note: early termination fees will apply)
- Monthly Cost: $30 per device (also requires a $35 activation fee)
- Features: Lanyard, Wrist Strap and Belt Clip Accessories Included, Water Resistant Panic Buttons, Untethered 24/7 Monitoring on a Cellular Network (Verizon Wireless), GPS Tracking (must be enabled and shared/volunteered), Convenience Calling, and an Online Portal to help manage lists of caregivers etc. (called SureResponse Online)
Review: SureResponse Medical Alert System from Verizon
As we noted above, Verizon’s SureResponse mobile emergency response system looks great, and has the financial backing of a leading mobile provider. It stands to reason that this device should be at the top of our list when it comes to mobile medical alert systems but thus far, the support for the product hasn’t been there. We like the form factor but it looks bulky on the wrist (uncomfortable) and we doubt many people would want to wear it there unless it gets much smaller. It’s bigger than traditional pendant alert systems, but it does more than they do. If a pendant option is chosen, it may look like your loved one is wearing a small cell phone around their neck. We’re guessing this will be worn on the belt clip or kept in a pocket, although from an accessibility standpoint we do like a pendant option. This device lacks fall detection, but then again so do the others in this space (at this time). We probably wouldn’t trust this device in the shower. Until Verizon discloses a little more about just how water resistant the SureResponse is, we’d keep it out of the water.
OK now for the good stuff… From a product standpoint, we think this looks like a great option. If (or when) the company gets their act together (and gives it the support it requires), it could be a great product. The ability to be UNTETHERED is something that many folks are looking for (especially at comparable price points to tethered solutions). It’s backed by a reputable company with relatively transparent terms and conditions. Also the (optional) GPS tracking is a nice feature on these cellular based medical alert systems. If the Verizon tracking feature is not activated, it is only used in the case of an emergency (so emergency personnel can locate the person in need). Here’s another item worth mentioning- if your loved one needs to go into a nursing facility (under the existing terms and conditions) they ARE eligible to opt out of their 2 year agreement. There are specific details associated with this “second right to cancel” so read the T’s & C’s carefully.
The Bottom Line:
We want to see more from Verizon in terms of product support. The Senior List even reached out to Verizon (back in March) in hopes that they’d respond to customer issues/inquiries but we’ve heard nothing. Given this is new to the market and new to Verizon, we’re going to take a wait and see approach. If we’re talking about the same support issues a year from now, we might as well scratch this one off the list. We still think the SureResponse by Verizon is worth looking into. If Verizon supports the product like they should, it will be near the top of our list of mobile options. For now, we’ll put them on our watch list.
Click here to read the original SureResponse Review and note user comments
If you’ve used the SureResponse Medical Alert System or know someone who has, please give us your opinion in the comment section below and provide a star rating!
If you or a family member is wearing a traditional (tethered to your land-line based telephone) medical alert system, you probably won’t be in a few years. You see times they are a changing. Traditional land-line based telephone systems are becoming a thing of the past… And those land-line based medical alert systems (think “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”) will be pushed out of the way by newer digital mobile devices. It’s actually happening right now.
The landscape in this market is changing at a rapid pace. Traditional form factors like the iconic pendant buttons could also be replaced. Did you know that there are medical alert apps out there for the iPhone and for Android devices? Wearable digital devices are the new rage. Think the new iWatch won’t have a medical alert app? Think again… The innovators out there (the companies that will lead this space) have already begun to go mobile. GreatCall, Philips and MobileHelp have already been leaning in this direction, and I’m guessing there are more innovators out there preparing to enter this space.
The Senior List recently published a profile of 5 cellular based medical alert system providers currently on the market. There are 2 additional cell based medical alert systems scheduled to launch this fall. One from Philips Lifeline and from MobileHelp. Further “change agents” will see this market as ripe for innovation, and it should prove very interesting to follow.
Here at The Senior List we’ve been tweeting about the recent Medical Alert Scams, and warning folks about robo-callers trolling for your personal information (AND your money). Reports from all over the country indicate this practice has not only continued, but it’s growing! Here’s the scam… An automated message rings your phone and indicates that someone has purchased a medical alert system for you. The message further indicates that the device is free, and ready to be sent to your home. All the consumer needs to do is press “1″ on their touch tone keypad. If someone does indeed fall for the scam, a slimy telemarketer comes on the line and attempts to steal your personal data and your credit card information.
This deceiving practice is so pervasive, it recently hit one of our readers. Take a look at what Maryann has been dealing with first hand (click the comment box to see the string live)! Special thanks to Maryann for alerting us.
Numerous news organizations are now reporting on this medical alert scam including AARP and the Medical Alert Monitoring Association. If you receive these calls, the best thing you can do is immediately hang up (don’t press #1, and don’t wait on the line). Anytime you receive an unsolicited call from a so-called provider, immediately hang up. Also, anytime you hear the word “free” you should be wary and (you guessed it) hang up. As my Papa used to tell me… “Nothing is free in this life!”
IF you’ve already made the mistake of speaking to one of the con-artists (oh I mean associates), you’ll likely receive follow-up calls because they’re now aware of a working number with a heart beat on the end of the line. You can Ignore the follow up calls. If you are so inclined, you can report the fraudulent activity to a number of sources including your local Better Business Bureau (local agencies usually have senior fraud prevention/reporting programs), your State Attorney General’s office, and/or the Medical Alert Monitoring Association at 1-866-388-8618.
A Philips Lifeline employee has confirmed to The Senior List that their much anticipated launch into the mobile (cellular based) medical alert system market has been delayed for unknown reasons. The “limited launch” of the Philips GoSafe mPERS (mobile personal emergency response system) occurred this past January at CES 2013, but the official consumer-launch has yet to take place. It should be interesting to see who comes to market first between Philips and MobileHelp. MobileHelp has been trying to get their new incarnation of the myHalo alert system to market as well, and both companies are playing the “coming soon” game online.
The new Philips GoSafe product is the latest in a line of newer mobile medical alert systems which uses the same cellular signal as your cell phone. Instead of being tethered to a home phone-line, the consumer can take these new devices with them wherever they go (out to work in the yard, to the mall, or to a doctors appointment). This new mobility feature is what separates the new mobile devices from their traditional (tethered) cousins.
IF Philips is able to bring this device to market soon, they could have a big advantage over their competition. Healthcare strategist and Senior List co-founder Chris Clark commented on a likely (Philips) go-to-market strategy; “Philips should be able to take advantage of their huge installed-base, and segment that market into home-based vs. mobile candidates. The perfect plan would be to execute an upgrade strategy for the mPERS candidates in their existing customer pool in-conjunction with going after new customers.”
Philips now anticipates putting the new GoSafe device in consumers hands this fall. It will be fun to see these new mobile players duke it out for market share in the lucrative mPERS space. If only they could get to market!
Mobile (Cellular) Based Medical Alert Systems – A Review Of Providers & Prices
The new mobile personal emergency response systems (mPERS) are not tethered to a land-line like traditional in-home devices. They operate on the same cellular signal that mobile phones do, offering mobility anywhere there is a cell signal. Here are a list of popular models available today. Note that monthly plans were selected based on the least expensive month-to-month price plan and NOT based on quarterly or annual contracted rates (which many providers may promote). These prices and plans change regularly, so be sure to check the websites thoroughly before purchasing. The Senior List recommends that you READ THE TERMS & CONDITIONS before purchasing (just as we have done). This can be a painful process, but doing so can save you a lot of headaches down the road. If you have questions, be sure to call the provider’s customer service line to get answers. If you are promised something (like no-questions-asked-return at anytime) by the customer service operator, GET IT IN WRITING before committing.
Min. Monthly $
|5Star (GreatCall)||$49.99||$35||$14.99||$14.99 min||No||No||Yes||GreatCall|
|SureResponse (Verizon)||$229.99||$35||$0||$30||No||Yes||Not at this time||SureResponse|
|LifeTrac (SecuraTrac)||$197.78||$0||$0||$34||No||No||Not at this time||LifeTrac|
|eCare+Voice (Secureus)||$99||$30||$0||$39.95||Yes||$100||Not at this time||eCare+Voice|
A few notes about the table (above) and its contents. Depending on the type of plan(s) you select, you may be able to reduce the cost of the equipment and/or your monthly costs. However this is likely to place you in a long-term contract. For example, Verizon Wireless will allow you to purchase the SureResponse device for $19 IF you are willing to enter into a 2 year agreement. Similarly, a number of providers will offer a 1 or 2 year agreement (with payment up-front naturally) and reduce your overall monthly costs during the term of the agreement. We don’t like long-term agreements (for a lot of reasons) but it may be suitable for your individual situation. Just like anything, you have to make the best choice for you or your loved one. We’re just trying to make the process a little easier.
We’ve also taken the liberty to make some recommendations based on customer feedback (click here to see reviews of medical alert system providers as well as consumer comments that follow each article). We also looked closely at the following criteria; Transparency of acquisition costs, ease of use (of website), knowledge of customer service personnel, fees, excessive charges, long-term agreements, return policies, and more. Our recommendations are also likely to change as some of these players get their acts together. (For example one of the providers listed below had a link to Terms & Conditions that was inaccessible.) Also, The Senior List staff does reach out to providers occasionally to ask questions, and advocate on your (the consumer’s) behalf. We DO take into account a providers willingness to provide exceptional customer service, and we’ll continue to work with them to get better.
At this time, The Senior List has NO affiliate or re-sale relationships with any medical alert system providers (mobile or traditional PERS).