Medical Alert vs Philips Lifeline
COVID-19 Update: Since the medical alert industry is considered to be “essential” during the COVID crisis, monitoring and customer service centers are still open and ready to help. To learn more about how a medical alert device can help keep you or your elderly loved one safe and connected during this pandemic, take a look at our list of essential products for seniors during COVID-19.
Anyone can suffer from a sudden medical emergency, but as people age, the risk of falling, experiencing an accident in the home or requiring immediate help increases. Medical alert systems provide an instant phone connection with a 24/7 emergency call center at the touch of a button, ensuring help arrives quickly.
In the past, medical alert systems were limited to in-home use, but that’s all changed with the development of cellular-connected devices that work anywhere there’s a cell phone signal. Other innovations include automatic fall detection, GPS location tracking and even mobile phone apps that give authorized caregivers access to real-time information about their loved ones.
Helping You Choose the Best Medical Alert System
With the ever-growing options and features available on today’s medical alert systems, finding the right emergency call device can be a real challenge. To help you sort through all the marketing language, different devices and services, we’ve compiled a collection of head-to-head reviews of the leading medical alert companies.
Today we’re comparing Medical Alert with Philips Lifeline. Each of these companies offer in-home and mobile medical alert systems, however, there are some notable differences in the pricing, equipment and features. Below you’ll find a side-by-side comparison chart followed by company profiles, pricing info and our recommendation for the best medical alert system.
Optional Monthly Add-On Services
Device protection plan (+$5/month)
Fall detection (+$10/month)
Water-Resistant Wearable Devices
Yes — Pendant
Yes — Pendant and wristband
Landline or cellular
Landline or cellular
2-Way Voice Communication
Yes — Through in-home base unit or mobile base unit
Yes — Through in-home base unit or GoSafe 2 pendant
Range (From in-home base unit to help button)
Up to 800'
32-36 hour battery back-up on base units
Non-rechargeable battery in wearable help buttons
Up to 48 hour battery back-up in base unit
Non-rechargeable batteries in wristband/pendant of HomeSafe devices — Philips automatically checks battery status and sends a replacement device when needed
Rechargeable battery in GoSafe2 pendant lasts 2-3 days
FALL DETECTION, LOCATION and RESPONSE SERVICE
Included in monthly fee with HomeSafe with Auto Alert and GoSafe systems
Yes (On-The-Go Products)
Yes (GoSafe systems)
Coverage Away From Home
Yes (On-The-Go system)
Yes (GoSafe systems)
24/7 USA Call Center
Yes — service in up to 140 languages
Yes — multiple interlinked monitoring centers located throughout the U.S.
Medical Alert Overview
Medical Alert is part of Connect America, a Philadelphia-based medical alert company that offers three medical alert systems complete with optional fall detection. The company’s 24/7 U.S. emergency response center employs a number of operators who are multilingual, and service is available in up to 140 languages through a real-time translation service.
Subscribers can choose between an in-home landline system, in-home cellular system or a mobile medical alert system. The mobile system works throughout the United States, Canada, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico using the AT&T cellular network and compatible international networks.
All Medical Alert systems are designed for ease of use with simple self-installation to save on costs. The batteries in the medical alert help buttons never need charging, and fall detection can be added to any system for an extra $10 per month.
Pros of Medical Alert:
- Offers fall detection for a $10/month fee
- Cellular-connected service provided through the AT&T network and affiliated providers outside of the U.S.
- Periodic sales and promotions on annual plans
- Coverage available throughout the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands
- The 365Access caregiver app lets authorized users check notifications and track user location (for GPS-enabled systems) through a compatible smartphone
Cons of Medical Alert:
- Pricing can be confusing
- Consumers need to pay for a year of service in advance to get the lowest possible monthly monitoring rate
- The On-The-Go system only works when the user carries both the wearable help button and the handheld device
Philips Lifeline is one of the oldest medical alert companies in the United States, and they have more subscribers than any other provider in the country. All of Philips Lifeline’s call buttons and base stations are designed and manufactured by the company, and they have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
Philips Lifeline has four medical alert systems, including two in-home systems and two mobile help buttons. All of the wearable devices are safe for use in the shower and feature a simple, user-friendly design. With the exception of the HomeSafe Standard that comes with either a pendant or wristband, all the help buttons are mounted on a pendant.
Pros of Philips Lifeline:
- Simple, month-to-month pricing
- Hardware designed and built by Philips
- Help buttons are safe for use in wet environments, such as the shower
- In-home emergency call button batteries never need charging
- Fall detection is included with the Homesafe with AutoAlert and both GoSafe systems
- The Philips Cares app lets subscribers create a care circle of authorized friends and neighbors who are notified if the emergency help button is activated
- The GoSafe 2 systems use five locating technologies to pinpoint the exact location of a user when they contact the monitoring center
- The GoSafe devices include a speakerphone for clear two-way communication with the Philips Lifeline operator
- Subscribers can choose who is called in an emergency
Cons of Philips Lifeline:
- Activation fees of $50 on HomeSafe systems
- $99.95-$149 device fees for GoSafe mobile medical alert systems
- No discounts for a second subscriber in the same household
Monthly monitoring costs with Philips Lifeline starts at $29.95 for an in-home, landline system and $49.95 per month for a mobile emergency call button that’s connected to the AT&T cellular network. Costs for Medical Alert are lower with monthly monitoring fees ranging from $22.95 to $37.95 plus $10 for fall detection.
Not only does Medical Alert charge less for their monitoring services than Philips Lifeline does, but there are no up-front equipment costs or activation fees with Medical Alert. By comparison, Philips Lifeline charges a $50 activation fee for in-home systems, and a $99.95-$149 device fee for mobile medical alert systems.
It’s also important to note that Medical Alert often has sales and promotions that can further reduce the monthly monitoring costs, especially for subscribers who pay for a year of service in advance. For example, the company’s Black Friday offer includes free shipping, a free month of service and a complimentary gift card when selecting an annual plan.
While each of these medical alert companies offer comparable monitoring services, the one that’s the best really comes down to personal preference. We like the fact that Philips Lifeline designs and manufactures all of their own hardware, however, we also like the lower costs offered through Medical Alert.
Medical Alert is the clear winner with regards to pricing for in-home medical alert systems, especially since Medical Alert doesn’t charge a $50 activation fee like Philips Lifeline does. It’s important to note that fall detection is included with three of the four systems from Philips Lifeline, while Medical Alert charges an additional $10 per month for automatic fall detection.
We prefer Philips Lifeline’s mobile help systems over Medical Alert’s On-The-Go system because with Philips Lifeline, the pendant is an all-in-one device complete with a cellular transmitter, fall detection and a two-way speakerphone. The Medical Alert mobile help system requires users to carry a small handheld device that connects to a low-profile wrist button or pendant, and users can only activate the system if the handheld device is nearby.
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