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.

As seniors age, they face an increased risk of suffering from falls, experiencing complications from a chronic health problem or facing other health-related emergencies. These risks are often the reason why seniors need to move from the comfort of their own homes into a care facility. The good news is that today’s medical alert systems are discrete, reliable and built with features that help seniors remain independent without compromising on safely.

Medical alert systems pair a wearable call button with either a base unit connected to a landline or a cellular connection that instantly connects seniors with an emergency call center. Call operators can access the seniors’ health records, speak with the senior through a two-way speaker and contact first responders or family members. Some medical alert systems also offer advanced features, such as fall detection, GPS location tracking and mobile apps for caregivers and loved ones.

Although the products and services provided by medical alert company’s are similar, there are significant differences in pricing, devices, contract length and add-on services. To help you choose the medical alert system that’s best suited for you and your loved ones, we’ve reviewed dozens of companies and services. In this guide we compare MobileHelp and GreatCall Lively, two well-known medical alert providers based in the United States.

While both companies are suitable for seniors who don’t have landlines, we’ve chosen MobileHelp over Great Call due to lower base pricing and recall issues with GreatCall.

Side By Side ComparisonMobileHelpGreatCall Lively
COSTS
Up-Front Equipment$0-$349.95$49.99
Monthly Monitoring$19.95-$41.95$24.99 - $39.99
Activation Fee$0$35
ContractNo Contract, However, Monthly Fees are Lower, If Prepaid for 3, 6 or 12 MonthsNo Contract
Optional Monthly Add-On Services$10/Month for Automatic Fall DetectionN/A
FEATURES
Water-Resistant Wearable DevicesAll Wearable Devices are WaterproofBoth Devices are IPX7 Rated for Up to 30 Minutes of Immersion in Water Up to 3.3 Feet Deep
Connection4G LTEBluetooth 4.1 with Compatible Smartphone Running android 4.4 or Higher, or IPhone 8.0 or Newer with Bluetooth 4.0
2-Way Voice CommunicationThrough In-Home Base Unit, Smart Watch or Mobile Device OnlyThrough Lively Mobile Plus or Smartphone Synced to Lively Wearable
Range (From In-Home base unit to landline service)Up to 600' in Open, Unobstructed SpaceBluetooth-Linked Smartphone Must be within 150' or Less to Work with Lively Wearable
Battery life30 Hours Battery Backup on In-Home Base Unit
Up to 24 Hours on Mobile Pendant
Up to 48 Hours on Smart Watch
Battery Life on Non-Rechargeable Neck Pendant and Wrist Buttons is 5 Years
Up to 80 Hours Per Charge for Lively Mobile Plus Device
Up to 6 Months for Lively Wearable--CR2450 Lithium Coin Battery is Non-Rechargeable and User Replaceable
FALL DETECTION, LOCATION and RESPONSE SERVICE
Fall DetectionAdd-on Option for $10 Per Month with All SystemsIncluded with Both GreatCall Devices
GPS LocatorYes - with Cellular-Based Mobile SystemsIncluded with Both GreatCall Devices
Coverage Away From HomeYes - with Cellular-Based Mobile SystemsYes
24/7 USA Call CenterYes - Two Call Centers Based in Syracuse, NY, and Corona, CA.Yes
OPTIONAL ACCESSORIES
TRELAWEAR Smart Jewelry Pendant
MobileHelp Smart Watch
Up to 3 Battery-Powered, Wall-Mountable Buttons can be Linked to Each System
PIN-Protected Lockbox
None

MobileHelp Overview

MobileHelp is an established medical alert company based in Boca Raton, Forida. All MobileHelp call operators have at least two years of post-secondary education and/or two years of military service, and service is available in English, Spanish and over 200 additional languages through a translation provider.

MobileHelp’s line of medical alert devices includes two unique, user-friendly call buttons — the TRELAWEAR pendant and the Smart Watch, which may appeal to subscribers who are looking for a discrete alternative to traditional call buttons. Cellular-enabled services are operated using the AT&T network.

Pros of MobileHelp:

  • All the U.S.-based call-center operators have at least 2-years post-secondary education and/or two years of military service
  • Service available in English and Spanish, and over 200 additional languages through a translation service
  • Offers unique TRELAWEAR jewelry-style emergency call pendants that feature hand-cut resin stones and choice of a gold or silver finish
  • The free MobileHelp Connect app lets authorized caregivers access real-time information, such as the GPS location of the subscriber (when enabled)
  • The MobileHelp Smart watch is a discrete, all-in-one emergency call button with two-way voice communications, GPS location tracking and health monitoring apps
  • MobileHelp is UL listed, FDA registered and has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau
  • Contracts can be cancelled at any time; users refunds are prorated
  • Cellular service is through the AT&T network

Cons of MobileHelp:

  • Users must carry a call button and a small, portable base unit to stay connected to cellular-based mobile services
  • Subscribers need to prepay a 12-month contract in order to get the lowest monthly service cost
  • Subscribers must pay shipping expenses when cancelling a contract
  • Cellular-enabled devices won’t work outside of AT&T coverage areas

GreatCall Overview

Based in Carlsbad, California, GreatCall is a subsidiary of Best Buy, which sells a wide range of mobile devices geared towards seniors, including the Jitterbug line. GreatCall offers two medical alert devices, both of which operate exclusively on the Verizon cellular phone network.

GreatCall’s 5Star Urgent Response service is included in all three health and safety service packages, giving subscribers 24/7 access to two-way voice communication with IAED-certified emergency call operators. The basic service package includes emergency monitoring service, while the preferred health and safety package adds Urgent Care and access to GreatCall Link, a mobile app.

Pros of GreatCall:

  • Devices are waterproof and include GPS technology
  • $25 referral credit through Refer-a-Friend program
  • New subscribers can cancel within 30 days
  • GreatCall’s 5Star Urgent Response agents are IAED certified and trained in CPR
  • Translation support available in over 100 languages
  • Offers optional Urgent Care service that connects callers with a registered nurse or board-certified doctor without insurance or a co-payment
  • Devices operate independent of an additional base unit
  • Service is connected to the Verizon cellular network

Cons of GreatCall:

  • Fall detection feature only works when devices are worn around the neck on the included lanyard; Lively Wearable does not detect falls when worn on wrist
  • Subscribers who cancel within 30 days are charged shipping fees, taxes and an undisclosed restocking fee
  • GreatCall’s Lively Mobile device was temporarily recalled in mid-2019 because the fall detection feature didn’t work as advertised
  • Service may be unreliable in areas where Verizon cell service is poor
  • For fall detection service, subscribers must pay for the Ultimate Health & Safety Package, the most expensive option offered

Price Comparison

GreatCall monthly monitoring costs start at $24.99 for the Lively Mobile Plus, while comparable service from MobileHelp costs $19.95 per month. Most notably, MobileHelp’s equipment is included in all service plans with the exception of the MobileHelp Smart watch and the TRELAWEAR pendant, which must be purchased separately.

Our Pick

Both of these medical alert systems have multiple products that operate on cellular networks, making either company a good choice for seniors who don’t have a landline phone. It’s important to note that to use MobileHelp’s basic unit, the MobileHelp Classic, subscribers must be within range of the in-home base unit, and the MobileHelp Wired Home system uses a landline connection.

Given the fact that GreatCall Lively has recalled all of the Lively Mobile Plus devices and their Lively Wearable isn’t currently available, our pick between these two medical alert companies is MobileHelp.

We like the fact that MobileHelp consistently receives positive reviews from subscribers and that the company offers innovative, user-friendly devices that can increase user compliance. We also appreciate that MobileHelp lists their pricing online, giving consumers the chance to review costs without being pressured by a salesperson.


Compare More Medical Alert Systems

Click on the links below to read about Medical Alert system comparisons.