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.

Medical alert devices are in-home and wearable devices that connect users to emergency services with one push of a button. These devices give the elderly and people with a chronic disease or handicap more freedom and independence, as they can quickly gain medical attention, even if they can’t get to a phone to dial 9-1-1. A simple push of a button calls trained operators who can contact an ambulance, the police, or a fire truck, and alert a designated caretaker that the user is in trouble.

Many different medical tech companies create wearable alert devices, and within each company, there are different tiers of service and features of each plan. For people who aren’t experts in the field of medical alert devices or uncomfortable with technology, the specs of different products can be confusing. This, plus the fact that marketing language from each company is designed to sell devices, makes finding the best medical alert devices confusing.

Therefore, we’ve placed two medical alert device manufacturers side-by-side, comparing the devices themselves, plans, coverage, features and costs associated with each. Today, we’re looking at RescueTouch and Philips Lifeline, two reputable companies that create devices to protect the health and independence of seniors. We’ve found that RescueTouch offers plans that are ideal for companions aging in place together, as well as straightforward pricing, and Philips Lifeline, has some of the most durable devices on the market, with several unique features.

Category


Side By Side Comparison


RescueTouch


Philips Lifeline


COSTS






Up Front Equipment


$99 for a single device or $178 for a pair (for Chit Chat Plan)


$0



Monthly Monitoring


$19 for 911-only pendant alert plan


$24 - $39 for a single plan and monitoring service or caretaker contacts


$54 - $64 for dual packages and professional monitoring or caretaker contact monitoring


$29.95 - $64.95 depending on the plan and devices



Activation Fee


$0


$50 - $149 per device


Rates vary according to the plan selected



Contract


Month-to-month, quarterly, or annually.


No cancellation fees but no refunds on devices after 30 days


Month-to-month rates


No cancellation fee



Optional Monthly Add-On Services


Several tiers of packages, each with inclusive services


None; different plans include different services


FEATURES






Water-Resistant Wearable Devices


Pendant only


Pendant and wristband



Connection


Cellular, using all major carriers. The personal contacts will use their own cell carrier to initiate contact with the wearer


Landline through the subscriber's utility plan


Cellular using AT&T



2-Way Voice Communication


Yes, both device-to-device and device-to-contact


Yes, for in-home device and GoSafe 2 pendant



Range (From in-home base unit for landline service)


Unlimited


Up to 800 feet



Battery life


2.5 days with GPS turned on


5 days with GPS turned off


48-hour backup battery in HomeSafe devices


2-7 days back up for GoSafe pendants and wristbands


Non-rechargeable HomeSafe wristbands and pendants; Philips Services replaces the batteries when they run low


FALL DETECTION, LOCATION and RESPONSE SERVICE






Fall Detection


Not on both family monitored and 911-only base plans


Yes for all other plans


Included with the HomeSafe AutoAlert plan and the GoSafe plan



GPS Locator


Yes on everything except the 911-only base plan


Included with GoSafe and GoSafe 2 plans



Coverage Away From Home


Yes, unlimited


Included with GoSafe and GoSafe 2 plans



24/7 USA Call Center


Yes, using the services of AvantGuard monitoring, a U.S.-based company


Yes; services available in 140 different languages


OPTIONAL ACCESSORIES







Available in 4 colors


None


Overview of RescueTouch

RescueTouch is a series of medical alert devices crafted by Florida Health Alert & Technology, a company that’s focused on helping seniors lead more independent and fulfilling lives. Its been in business for over 40 years, with a range of wearable alert devices and technology designed for medical professionals, including in-home health care technology like nurse-alert systems. RescueTouch was one of the first companies to embrace GPS location services and cellular technology to give greater flexibility for its product users.

RescueTouch pendants work using cellular technology, allowing clear two-way conversation between a pair of devices, or between the wearer and their designated monitors. Subscribers have a choice of a professional care center staffed 24-7 with operators or to load up to five personal contacts that can call for an emergency or simply give the wearer a ride to the doctor if they’re feeling ill or have fallen. Being able to select the degree of response, instead of having emergency services as the default response, is appealing to many users.

One feature that sets RescueTouch plans apart from others is the Chit Chat dual pendant plan. With this, subscribers purchase a pair of pendants and can communicate with one another, plus contact one of the five individuals on their plan in case of need or emergency. For couples who plan to age in place at home, being able to check in with the push of a button helps increase their level of care and independence.

Except for the 9-1-1 only alert plan, RescueTouch plans are a little higher than many competitors, and all devices must be purchased new, upfront. There is a 30-day window for cancellation, although the devices are non-refundable after the 31st day. Subscriptions to RescueTouch monitoring are available quarterly, annually, and month-to-moth. Those who elect the quarterly or annual plans are eligible for a discount, as are military veterans and their families, nurses and first responders, AARP members and individuals with a qualifying disability.

RescueTouch Pros

  • Multiple discounts can reduce monthly fees
  • Chit Chat feature for companions
  • Multilingual staff in the US-based operator center
  • Straightforward billing and easy cancelation terms
  • Unlimited range of wearable devices
  • Text alerts to family members if the pendant is activated

RescueTouch Cons

  • Pendants only – devices look like medical alert devices
  • The up-front cost for devices may be expensive for some individuals
  • Must have cellular service for every device except 9-1-1 only

Overview of Philips Lifeline

Philips Lifeline devices are made by the Philips Electric brand, a company that’s been in the electronics and technology business for over a century. The company has professionally trained operators based in the US and Canada, with help available in over 140 languages. Operators must undergo at least 80 hours of initial training as well as ongoing training as the technology and devices change.

Philips Lifeline devices use sensitive technology and fast connectivity to help seniors age in place, including monitoring of everyone on the home. This can help older couples or companions who are aging in place, as all members of the household have access to the same plan and user profile. While Philips offers many benefits to users, one drawback is that the in-home devices must be installed by a certified Philips technician.

Philips has several different plans for subscribers to choose from, with inclusive pricing and no extra add-ons that can cause monthly bills to be higher than anticipated. The costs range from $29.95 to $54.95, for the GoSafe unlimited range plans. The base plan starts with the HomeSafe plan, a water-resistant speaker that uses either the home’s landline or cellular connection. An upgrade from this plan is the AutoAlert plan, at $44.95 per month, which can contact emergency services if the user isn’t able to communicate, which as when they’re ill or worried there’s a prowler in the home.

The Philips GoSafe and GoSafe 2 devices are designed to be worn outside the home and are equipped with GPS to allow emergency services to locate the wearer. These plans are also beneficial for seniors prone to wandering. The system has an unlimited range as long as the wearer is within AT&T cellular coverage. This also benefits seniors who enjoy traveling. GoSafe is the most expensive plan, and the one with the most features costs $64.95 per month.

Some Philips Lifeline plans include the option to add a medication management and dispensing system, wherein a user or caretaker places the medications into a dispensary, sets the timers, and the medicines are automatically dispensed. Seniors who have difficulty opening pill bottles, those with complicated medication regimens, or those who are forgetful can benefit from this feature. Lifeline also has a companion app, compatible with Andriod and iOS devices, for family members or designated caregivers, which allows them to monitor the user.

Philips Lifeline Pros

  • Professional operators that speak over 140 languages
  • Several different plans to meet the different needs of seniors
  • Fall detection and medication dispensing services
  • A companion app for smartphones and tablets

Philips Lifeline Cons

  • In-home devices must be installed by a professional
  • The range of wearable devices depends on AT&T coverage range
  • Some plans can be pricey

Our Pick

Both Philips Lifeline and RescueTouch are among the better devices and plans for seniors. The pricing for both is comparable, with Philips a little more per month, while RescueTouch has the highest up-front device fees. However, the flexible plans for Philips Lifeline and the compatibility of the wearable devices and the in-home alert systems give Philips Lifeline the edge, especially with the addition of the medication management system and companion applications for extra security.

Compare More Medical Alert Devices

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