Bay Alarm Medical is our top choice among medical alert systems available today. When we consider quality of service, contract flexibility, and cost efficiency, this leading brand comes out on top. Read on to learn about our full medical alert system rankings, as well as how to choose the right system for you.
What is a Medical Alert System?
Medical alert systems are emergency monitoring devices designed to provide independence to seniors and people with significant health concerns. These devices can provide emergency protection to users both at and away from home with immediate access to emergency medical services. Seniors can use medical alert systems for protection in the case of accidents that require immediate medical attention, such as falls or other injuries. These systems can also be used to contact loved ones or caregivers in times of need.
How Does a Medical Alert System Work?
At-home medical alert systems can be connected to a landline or a cellular network, while mobile systems always feature cellular connectivity. A landline or cellular connection allows you to connect to an operator at an emergency response center. Both types of medical alert systems feature a large button that, when pressed, connects the user to emergency personnel. Some systems will first contact a designated family member, neighbor, or caregiver. After speaking to the operator, emergency services will be sent directly to the user’s location if needed.
Many medical alert systems also offer fall detection technology. This feature can sense when the user falls and will call emergency services in the event that the user doesn’t immediately get up after the fall.
A Glance at The Best Medical Alert Systems
- Bay Alarm Medical
- Medical Guardian
- Philips Lifeline
How We Chose The Best Medical Alert Systems
1. Bay Alarm Medical
With over 70 years of experience as a medical alert system provider, Bay Alarm Medical is a trusted choice for seniors and loved ones. Safety and affordability are this company’s main priorities, which is clear when you check out their three standard medical alert systems: An in-home system, an on-the-go system, and an in-car system.
Remarkable emergency and customer service are also key to Bay Alarm Medical’s product offerings. All of their products have the same fundamental system: when the user pushes the alert button, they’re connected to a 24/7 live operator in 45 seconds or less. Then, the user will speak to the operator with the device’s clear two-way communication. Depending on the user’s needs, the operator will contact a family member, friend, neighbor, or local 911 services.
Bay Alarm Medical’s In-Home Alert System features included AT&T 4G-LTE cellular connectivity, two-way communication, phone call functionality, and a 32-backup battery. It starts at $19.95 per month, which is a remarkably low price. The On-The-Go System starts at $24.95 per month with 4G LTE connectivity, automatic fall detection, two-way communication, a water-resistant design, and a caregiver tracking app. The In-Car System starts at $29.95 per month with automatic crash detection, smart tracking with a mobile app, and boundary alerts based on GPS tracking.
Bay Alarm Medical offers a 30-day, risk-free trial period with all of its systems. Additionally, there are no startup costs and no minimum contract length.
MobileHelp is a Florida-based medical alert system company that offers a wide range of services for seniors and caregivers. This brand works with a Rapid Response center in Corona, California to provide their users with the best possible quality of care. This center spans over 20,000 square feet, and all of their emergency operators are certified by the Security Industry Association.
The MobileHelp Classic in-home system is one of the most affordable home alert systems with a cellular connection around. With a monthly contract, it costs just $19.95 and includes free activation, a free lockbox, and a risk-free 30-day trial period. MobileHelp Wired is also available for users that prefer a landline connection.
MobileHelp also offers three on-the-go system options: MobileHelp Smart, MobileHelp Solo, and MobileHelp Duo. MobileHelp Smart is a smartwatch system that provides access to emergency services, GPS location tracking, and a wide variety of health, fitness, and weather apps. This system costs $349.95 upfront, with a subscription fee that starts off at $74.85 for a three-month subscription. MobileHelp Solo is a cellular alert device that works both at home and away with built-in GPS technology and a two-way speaker. MobileHelp Duo is a bundled package with two GPS medical alert systems. The Solo system costs $37.95 for a monthly subscription; the Duo system costs $44.95 for a monthly subscription.
MobileHelp doesn’t require users to sign long-term contracts, and there are no activation fees for their systems. Also, there’s no additional charge for equipment so long as you’re a MobileHelp subscriber.
3. Medical Guardian
Medical Guardian operates with a 100% U.S.-based monitoring center. This secures speedy response times for users, which is of the utmost importance when a medical emergency strikes. The center offers 24/7 emergency monitoring and response times as quick as 30 seconds from when the alert button is pressed.
Medical alert systems from Medical Guardian also offer a remarkably wide signal range. Their in-home system works when the wearable help button is as far as 1,300 feet from the base station – that’s a range of approximately four football fields.
Medical Guardian offers six different medical alert systems to choose from, which is a wide variety when compared to their competitors. These systems include:
- Classic Guardian: an in-home system with a landline connection. This system costs $29.95 per month for a monthly subscription.
- Home Guardian: an in-home system with AT&T cellular connectivity. This system costs $34.95 per month for a monthly subscription.
- Family Guardian: an in-home system with AT&T cellular connectivity and three activity sensors for installation throughout the home. This system costs $79.95 per month for a monthly subscription
- Mobile Guardian: an on-the-go system with GPS tracking, AT&T cellular connectivity, and a standalone portable device. This system costs $49.95 per month for a monthly subscription.
- Active Guardian: an on-the-go system that provides both at-home and mobile protection with GPS and WiFi capabilities. This system costs $44.95 per month for a monthly subscription.
- Freedom Guardian: an on-the-go system in the form of a smartwatch with mobile phone capabilities, comprehensive location tracking, and various apps. This system costs $44.95 per month for a monthly subscription, along with a one-time equipment charge of $99.
While Medical Guardian users don’t have to sign a long-term contract, they can save money on the service by selecting an annual subscription, rather than a monthly subscription. Using their in-home system as an example, monthly subscribers pay $0.97 per day, while annual subscribers pay $0.90 per day.
Having been in business since 1977, LifeStation is a longstanding name in medical alert systems. Their products operate with TMA Five Diamond UL-listed call centers based in Houston, Texas and Union, New Jersey. The specialists at these centers are Central Station Alarm Association certified and are consistently evaluated to provide the highest level of medical monitoring service.
LifeStation offers only three alert system options: In Home Traditional, In Home Plus, and Mobile with GPS. The In Home Traditional system offers a 500-foot range for the help button, a built-in 32-hour backup battery, and a waterproof wearable help button. However, the wearable button doesn’t feature two-way communication, so you must be in range of the base station’s speaker to communicate with an operator. This is a serious shortcoming of the system, but you can set a default emergency plan that will be implemented if the operator doesn’t hear a response. The In Home Plus system is virtually identical to the In Home system, but it includes an AT&T cellular connection instead of a landline connection. The In Home Traditional system starts at $25.95 per month and the In Home Plus system starts at $33 per month.
LifeStation’s Mobile with GPS system features two-way communication, an AT&T cellular connection, and a standby battery. It starts at $35.95 per month.
With LifeStation, there’s no long-term contract or hidden fees. You can choose a monthly, quarterly, or annual contract, with the annual contract being the most cost-efficient.
5. Philips Lifeline
As the very first personal alert system brand in North America, Philips Lifeline has an extended reputation for reliability. The Philips Lifeline Response Centers, which are located in the United States and Canada, are in full operation 24/7, every day of the year. Their care specialists are trained in HIPAA compliance and all response centers support multiple languages.
Philips Lifeline offers four main medical alert systems: HomeSafe Standard, HomeSafe with AutoAlert, GoSafe, and GoSafe 2. Both HomeSafe systems offer either landline or cellular connectivity, along with the ability to create personalized emergency response plans.
AutoAlert, which is included with the HomeSafe with AutoAlert and both GoSafe systems, is an automatic fall detection feature. This feature includes accelerometers, barometric sensors, and a specialized algorithm to accurately decipher real falls.
Philips Lifeline doesn’t require users to sign a long-term contract or charge a cancellation fee, and their systems are priced per month. That being said, this medical alert system brand does charge activation fees and device fees for their system, which tacks their price above many competitors. Specifically, the Philips Lifeline in-home systems require a one-time $50 activation fee, and the device fees for their on-the-go systems range from around $100 to $150.
Medical Alert System Pricing and Contracts
When you’re shopping online for medical alert systems, you’ll notice that most companies display a monthly price for their systems. While this price breakdown gives you a number for budgeting and comparisons, it doesn’t necessarily denote a monthly contract.
Most medical alert system brands offer a few different contract options, including monthly, quarterly, and annually. The annual contract usually has the lowest monthly price, but it also means that you’ll be locked in for the full year. Monthly contracts provide far greater flexibility, but also lead to a slightly higher cost.
To offset this issue, you can keep an eye out for free trial periods. Some brands will give you a month to try out the system, risk-free. If after 30 days or some set period of time you decide that the system isn’t right for you, you can return it without having to worry about fees or obligations.
Medical Alert System Accessories and Equipment
Medical alert systems feature equipment and optional accessories that are used to carry out the system’s functions. Typical equipment and accessories include:
The base station is a key piece of equipment for virtually all in-home medical alert systems. It usually includes a large help button and speakers that users can press to connect to an operator. Your base station may connect to your home’s landline or a cellular network, depending on the system that you choose.
Wearable Help Button
Wearable help buttons give medical alert system users the safety of emergency services wherever they go. Typically in the form of a wristband or pendant, wearable help buttons need to be lightweight and comfortable, as well as water-resistant for use in the bath or shower.
A lockbox is designed to hold a key to the user’s home so that emergency responders and caregivers have access, specifically if the user can’t reach the door in an emergency.
Many in-home medical alert systems allow you to add on wall buttons for installation throughout your home. This boosts the chance of you having a help button within reach in case of an emergency. Wall buttons are usually installed in hallways and bathrooms, as falls are more likely to occur in these areas of your home.
How to Choose a Medical Alert System
Selecting the best medical alert system for your needs can seem tricky, especially with the wide range of options available today. But, you can consider these important factors to narrow down your search and find a system that’s right for you:
In-Home vs Mobile System
Medical alert systems fall under two main categories: in-home systems and mobile GPS systems. You can also find bundled medical alert systems that provide coverage both at home and away.
In-home systems are ideal for seniors who want to live independently in their own homes into older age. With either a cellular or landline connection, an in-home system can provide the safety of quick emergency services in the case of an accident or injury.
Mobile systems are great for seniors who are frequently out and about. Whether you’re visiting family and friends, attending a local class or event, or going on an excursion, a mobile alert device provides the same emergency protection as an in-home system, anywhere you go. Mobile alert systems are typically equipped with GPS technology so that operators can pinpoint your location and send help if needed.
Fall Detection Technology
When you shop for medical alert systems, you should consider whether or not you’ll need fall detection technology. Fall detection technology can sense when a user falls and will automatically connect that user to an emergency operator. This feature comes included with some systems, but is often available for an added charge.
Fall detection is important for seniors who are at risk for falling or who have fallen before. After a fall, seniors may not be able to press their help button. Especially for seniors living alone, this is a significant risk. So, a medical alert system with fall detection is a good choice for seniors in this scenario who need added protection in case of emergency.
Length of Contract
Selecting the right contract length for your medical alert system is crucial for cost efficiency and practicality. Of course, we all want to save money, and annual contracts typically offer the best deal. However, it’s hard to know how long you’ll need the medical alert system or if it will work for you. So, make sure to review every contract length option for the medical alert system that you choose to balance price with flexibility. Our top medical alert system picks offer affordable monthly options with no minimum contract length.
Quality of Customer Service
Medical alert systems can vary in the quality of customer service that they provide. Here, we’re referring to how quickly you’ll be connected to an operator and receive emergency services after pressing the help button. So, as you’re shopping for medical alert systems, keep an eye out for the location and quality of systems’ help centers. Large, established help centers located in the United States typically provide good quality service with fast response times.
Frequently Asked Questions About Medical Alert Systems
What is the difference between an in-home vs a mobile gps system?
An in-home medical alert system provides protection only in the user’s home and may operate with a landline or cellular connection. An in-home system will typically feature a wearable help button along with a base station with a standalone help button. The wearable buttons will work within a set distance of the base station.
Mobile GPS medical alert systems are designed for on-the-go use. This type of system typically features a compact mobile device that operates with a cellular connection and features GPS technology. When the user presses the mobile help button, they’ll be connected to an operator who can view their current location and send emergency personnel if needed.
What is automatic fall detection?
Automatic fall detection is an advanced feature available with many medical alert systems today. It’s usually built into a system’s wearable help button, which the user should wear virtually all the time. If the user falls, the wearable button will recognize the motion of the fall and automatically call the emergency response center. The purpose of automatic fall detection technology is to get medical help to seniors ASAP after a fall, even if they’re unable to press the help button.
How does automatic fall detection work?
Automatic fall detection technology is developed through hours of observation of senior activity. With accelerometers and highly accurate motion sensors, it can decipher the quickly accelerating motion of a fall and often also tracks motion after the fall. Automatic fall detection can even interpret the difference between an actual fall and a harmless accident with a specialized algorithm. When the motion sensors recognize a motion that seems to be a fall, it will call the emergency response center.
Does automatic fall detection work 100% of the time?
Unfortunately, no. While medical alert systems today are highly advanced and reliable, automatic fall detection technology isn’t infallible. If you’re able to press the wearable help button after a fall, be sure to do so.
Can the fall detection feature go off accidentally?
It’s possible that automatic fall detection will go off accidentally if your wearable help button is put through a motion that resembles a fall. For example, if you drop the help button, it could trigger the automatic fall detection feature. Most systems offer a way to cancel an emergency call in the event of a false alarm.
What other terms do medical alert systems go by?
Medical alert systems may also be called:
- Personal emergency response systems
- Medical emergency response systems
- Medical alert devices
- Medical alarm systems
- Personal alert systems
- Senior alert systems
What’s the difference between a medical alert system and calling 911?
While calling 911 will dispatch emergency services to your location, it doesn’t provide the same level of security and independence as a medical alert system. With a medical alert system, seniors don’t have to worry about reaching and dialing the phone if they fall or get hurt. Additionally, medical alert systems have contact and medical information for each of their users, as well as contact information for caregivers and loved ones. So, the emergency responder that you’ll reach with a medical alert system is better prepared to get you the help that you need than a 911 operator.