PEN Blog Archives

July 2021 Digital Health Roundup

Patients are reporting that they are as satisfied with telehealth care as they are with in-person care, but as the Covid-19 related restrictions are being lifted and the emergency telehealth policies are beginning to expire, things are getting complicated. Patients are already experiencing difficulties in accessing care and are looking to lawmakers to ensure that easy and affordable access to the benefits of telehealth becomes a permanent option.

A recent Cleveland Clinic study surveyed patient satisfaction levels, comfort and ease using technology, and patient-clinician engagement, reports mhealthintelligence.com. The study found that more than 80 percent of patients found that their virtual visits were as good as in-person visits, and more than 53 percent found their visit to be a better experience than an in-person visit. The survey also revealed that patients found virtual visits made it easy to get care and also saved time. Not having to travel and being able to have appointments from home were reasons given for why patients liked virtual healthcare. Patients also noted that their care provider was interested in them and understood their healthcare needs. Some patients had a lower overall satisfaction rate based on experiencing technical difficulties during their visits, and some felt the interface could be improved. Overall, the study confirmed that telehealth continues to enhance healthcare for patients. Learn more here.

Telemedicine may not only be beneficial to patient health, but it could also benefit the health of the planet, reports healthcareitnews.com. A recent study showed that an increased use of virtual healthcare resulted in a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The study found that as the use of telehealth increased and healthcare-related transportation decreased, the resulting greenhouse gas emissions were reduced. Researchers are hopeful that continued use of telemedicine could reduce the impact the healthcare industry has on the changing climate. Read more here.

Expansion of insurance coverage for telemedicine occurred during the Covid-19 pandemic with 22 states changing laws or policies, reports commonwealthfund.org. However, due to the methods used to change the policies, most of the changes are temporary and set to expire after the pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, a 2018 survey of physicians found that 18 percent had used telemedicine to provide care, and less than one percent of medical care was provided by telemedicine in January 2020. The pandemic created a need to increase virtual care, and states voluntarily took steps to encourage telemedicine use by patients and providers. While telehealth provided many benefits during the pandemic, the benefits were not equitable to all groups. Other challenges included practitioners charging for services such as short phone calls that would not have been charged prior to the pandemic. Going forward, policymakers will need to monitor data collected during the pandemic to determine the best ways to permanently provide coverage for telemedicine services. Get more information here.

While the temporary telehealth changes are beginning to expire and new measures are not in place, patients and providers are being caught in the middle, reports statnews.com. Telemedicine rules that were in place before the pandemic are coming back into play, and they are making telehealth more costly and inaccessible. Doctors are struggling to keep up with the changing rules, and patients are going to extremes to ensure care – including driving across state lines to rest stops or parking lots to call in for telehealth appointments. Some states are extending the temporary telehealth guidelines, but many have already put an end to them, and that leaves doctors and patients scrambling. With the mounting evidence pointing to the benefits of telemedicine, everyone is left wondering if those benefits will be accessible with the shift in regulations and licensing. The article, which includes examples of how the telehealth policy changes affect patients and providers, is well worth the read. Find it here.

Without federal and state lawmakers continuing to allow for flexible telehealth policies, some of the most vulnerable patients will have a harder time accessing care, reports telecomreseller.com. A study by the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) showed that the majority of health centers predict millions of health center patients could lose access to care if expanded telehealth policies don’t continue. In order to ensure they can continue to reach some of the most vulnerable patients, health centers need lawmakers to permanently adopt policies that will allow for the continuation of remote care, including recognizing health centers as distant site providers and allowing them to provide audio-only telehealth visits. Vulnerable seniors and patients who are in rural areas and below the poverty level will suffer the most. Learn more here.

Whatever happens regarding access to care, healthcare relies heavily on digital infrastructure that could be vulnerable to cybercrime. Senators have introduced a bill that will address the threat of cybercrime, reports healthcareitnews.com. The International Cybercrime Prevention Act was first introduced in 2018 but was reintroduced in 2021 after recent notable cybersecurity attacks including the Colonial Pipeline attack. The bill is aimed at protecting against attacks on critical infrastructure and includes hospitals. Learn more here.

Guiding the Cancer Community: What It Means to be a Patient Leader

We all have leaders we look up to, whether it be a friend, family member, mentor, or coach. In the patient community, we also have people we look up to who are making waves in the cancer advocacy world. But what does it mean to be a leader and/or an influencer? What qualities does this person have? How active are they in different communities and social media platforms? 

There’s power in sharing your story, and that’s one of the most crucial ways in becoming a patient leader. However, many of us are scared to share. I know I was when I got my first diagnosis, and then my second. Questions I asked myself were, “What will people think of me and/or what will they say,” and “Will I receive support?” When I gathered the courage, I posted my first picture on Instagram and then shared it on Facebook. The amount of support I received from family and friends, including friends I hadn’t heard from in years, was overwhelming. So, I opened up and began to share more. I knew my story was unique being a 27-year-old (adolescent and young adult [AYA]) thyroid cancer patient (a rare cancer) who was working full-time and putting myself through graduate school. So, I decided to share it in whatever way I could, and if I was told, “No, thank you,” I kept looking until I heard “Yes, we’d love to share your story!” again and again.  

As an active member of the cancer patient community, I have had numerous opportunities to identify myself as a patient leader and share my story, as well as my point of view on different assets of healthcare, in multiple formats. I measure my own success by the number of people I impact with my advocacy, whether it’s in a small or large way. While this is not always known and/or cannot always be seen, I know that I’m at least helping and/or impacting one person with whatever I tweet, blog, share a video, or speak on a podcast about, which can then be shared with others. 

So how can you get started in becoming a patient leader? Here are some suggestions: 

  • Share your story on social media platforms, including Instagram and Facebook 
  • This may include on your personal page as well as support groups 
  • Participate in tweet chats dedicated to specific topics you’re interested in, including #patientchat. Use the website, Symplur, to find relevant healthcare topics that are trending 
  • Look for cancer and healthcare-related podcasts. Email them to ask if they’re accepting guests 
  • Look for cancer and/or healthcare-related journals and blogs. Ask if they’re accepting guest submissions 
  • Network with other patient leaders and ask how they got started and what resources they used/are currently using 

Finally, remember there’s no “right” way to lead. We’re all patients with our own unique stories. Whichever way you decide to share it, know that you’re helping someone not feel so alone. That’s what a real leader is to me. 

#patientchat Highlights – Transforming Healthcare as a Patient Leader

Last week we hosted a “Transforming Healthcare as a Patient Leader” #patientchat with Seth Rotberg from @wegohealth. The #patientchat community came together on Twitter for a lively discussion. Take a look at the top tweets and full transcript from the chat.

Top Tweets

What does it mean to be a patient leader in the community?


Connection


Closing Thoughts 


Full Transcript

Navigating Relationships and Your Mental Health After a Diagnosis

The moment you receive a cancer diagnosis, it can feel like everything in your life flips upside down. It’s one reason why 15-25% of cancer patients experience depression. We’ve become a society that focuses on so many stereotypes and “what ifs” when it comes to cancer that it can take a toll on your mental health.

It can also impact your relationships and how you move forward in your life.

Obviously, how your mental health is impacted can depend on the severity of your diagnosis. In any case, however, it’s important to make your mental wellbeing and your relationships a priority. Yes, taking care of your physical health is crucial. But now, more than ever, being in the right mental state and having people you love around to support you will make a big difference.

So, how can you navigate relationships and your mental health after a diagnosis?

Accepting Your Emotions

It’s not uncommon for people who receive a life-changing diagnosis to go through a whirlwind of emotions. But, you might feel as though you have to keep them hidden. There are so many things to go through after a cancer diagnosis. To keep looking forward and pushing ahead with treatment, you might think that you don’t have time to acknowledge your emotions.

That kind of attitude can be damaging. It can lead to depression, anxiety, or even PTSD. To effectively cope with your diagnosis, you have to allow yourself to feel.  Face your emotions,  no matter what they are. When you don’t, you’ll start to notice things like muscle tension, fatigue, or more aches and pains than usual. You might also start to recognize that certain things trigger powerful emotions more than others, and they become harder to bottle up.

When you try to push your emotions down, you’ll add more stress to your life. As a result, your mental state can continue to spiral, and it can cause even more turmoil in your relationships. Whether you’re married, dating, or dealing with friendships, your mental health state can have a big influence on how you feel about those relationships and how you treat people who love you.

Recognizing Problems in Your Relationship

It’s not uncommon for people with mental health conditions to feel tension or strain in their relationships. If your mental health is suffering after your diagnosis, you might already be noticing some changes. Some common issues that tend to occur include:

  • A lack of communication
  • Distractions
  • More frequent arguments
  • Misunderstandings

It’s also common to experience a lack of intimacy when you’re struggling with mental health issues. For example, anxiety can cause pain during intercourse for women and may contribute to erectile dysfunction for men. Depression can lead to a decreased interest in physical intimacy or even emotional closeness.

Take a look at your actions and attitude. Are you pushing people away or playing the role of the victim? Whether you’re in a romantic relationship with someone or you’re thinking about how you act around family and friends, any connection can struggle with the wrong attitude. You have to be willing to adapt to your diagnosis, highlight your best assets, and let the people in your life surround and support you.

You should always be on the lookout for issues in your relationship after a diagnosis. If you’re experiencing problems, consider your mental health state, and how the two might connect. Having strong relationships is important for your overall well-being, and you’re going to want someone there with you as often as possible so you’re not alone on this new journey.

Seeking Support

Another reason strong relationships are so important after a diagnosis is because of support. Having a support system can help you to:

  • Continue with a sense of normalcy
  • Maintain your emotional stability
  • Keep a positive attitude
  • Get the rest you need while having things looked after for you

Friends, family, and even a spouse or partner should all be a part of your support group. If you allow yourself to reach out for help, you might be surprised by who is willing to be there for you.

If you find that your mental health is still suffering, consider talking to a therapist, counselor, or psychiatric nurse. There is currently a mental health care provider shortage across the country, though options like telehealth and community initiatives are making providers more accessible to everyone. Talking to a mental health professional will make it easier to open up and expand on your feelings. You’ll get to the root cause of your anxiety or depression and learn the skills necessary to manage your symptoms.

When you receive a cancer diagnosis, you’ll need to put your time, energy, and drive into beating the physical disease. To do that, however, you might need to focus on the strength of your mental state, first. Keep these ideas in mind for navigating relationships and your mental health, and your entire treatment experience can be a more positive one.

What Are Essential Genetic Tests for Metastatic Breast Cancer Patients?

 

Following a metastatic breast cancer diagnosis, what tests are essential? In this podcast, Dr. Lisa Flaum reviews the role of key tests, and the impact of molecular (genetic) test results on treatment decisions.

About the Guest:

Dr. Lisa Flaum is a Medical Oncologist at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University.

These Gift Ideas For Newly Diagnosed Cancer Patients Will Show How Much You Care

Do you have a friend or family member who is newly diagnosed with cancer?

Chances are you’d like to get them a gift to show you’re thinking of them.

While any thoughtful gift will be welcomed, there are some gifts that are particularly helpful at this time.

The gift ideas listed in this post are from my own experience as a cancer patient and other patients’ experiences. Remembering back to the shock and anxiety surrounding the early days of my cancer diagnosis I wouldn’t have been able to say at that time which gift would have been most useful because I simply didn’t know what lay ahead of me. Now from the other side of the cancer shore, I’m much more clued into the type of gift that I would love to have received at that time.

If you’re looking for the perfect gift to help a friend get through cancer treatment find inspiration in the list that follows.  Each of these gifts will be guaranteed to help your friend or family member feel truly cared for because you took the time to think of a gift that is not just thoughtful but useful and practical.

Gifts To Help Get Through Chemotherapy Sessions

I won’t ever forget my first experience of the chemotherapy infusion room – a cold and sterile environment I was ill-prepared for.  Sarah Dow (@he4dgirl) suggests gifting “big thick long soft bedsocks” which she used during her own chemotherapy sessions along with a soft warm fleece blanket.  Although most chemotherapy units supply patients with blankets, there’s nothing quite as nice as snuggling into a blanket lovingly chosen for you, rather than a hospital issue one.

Continuing with the coziness theme, another great gift idea is loungewear. Pick out some soft sweat pants and tops that will be comfortable to wear. If the patient will be in hospital for surgery then pajamas are another perfect gift idea. Consider whether they may face limitations after surgery, for example after my breast surgery I had great difficulty lifting my arms, so I wore button-down pajamas.

Gifts To Help Pass The Time During Chemotherapy

The length of time for chemotherapy sessions can range from an hour to eight or more hours depending on the chemotherapy regimen.  To pass the time Sarah suggests good headphones.  You might also like to consider purchasing a subscription to Spotify or Audible for something to listen to on those headphones.

Creating A Comfort Box

Sarah Connor (@sacosw) suggests creating a “box of comfort” filling it with “tissues, unscented soap and moisturizer, sucky sweets, tissues and something to read.” Or you could buy a tote bag which you can customize and fill with useful items to carry to treatment sessions such as:

  • A reusable water bottle that will keep drinks cool as it’s important to stay hydrated during chemotherapy.
  • A travel toothbrush, toothpaste, and alcohol-free mouthwash to help get rid of the metallic taste chemotherapy.
  • Wet wipes and hand sanitizer.
  • A squishy stress ball.
  • Puzzle and coloring books.
  • A notepad and pen – a gift Nancy Stordahl (@nancyspoint) would love to have received at the time was “a journal or pretty notebook for writing thoughts, making lists, writing reminders.”

Post Chemotherapy Gift Ideas

Chemotherapy does all sorts of not-so-wonderful things to a body.  From sleep disturbance to hair loss, nausea, aching joints and cracked skin, the effects of the treatment linger on.

Here are some gift ideas to bring comfort and ease to the patient.

  • To help your friend sleep, get them a silk eye mask or pillowcase. Add a lavender pillow spray, although be aware that sometimes scent and strong smells can be off-putting for chemo patients (this goes for scented moisturizer too).
  • Organic lip balms to help soothe chapped lips.
  • Foot rollers and mini massagers to ease aches and pains.
  • Paraben-free/sensitive skin toiletries because chemotherapy can make skin more sensitive.
  • Anti-sickness wrist bands to help with nausea.
  • Healthy snack bars, peppermint candy, and herbal teas (peppermint and ginger are good for nausea).
  • Soft hats and pretty scarves (again choose silk scarves as other material may get hot, itchy, and uncomfortable).
  • Chemotherapy can plunge some women into menopause. Julia (@BCCWW) suggests a chargeable, portable fan and chill pillows. Lisa Holtshousen (@LHoltshousen) is still grateful to her teenage sons who gifted her a ‘pearl’ necklace which she kept in the freezer and put on when hot flashes struck, and a box of “20 beautiful fans (the kind where your wrist does all the work) – enough for every spot in the house for quick access.”

More Gift Ideas

If you are really stuck for ideas, gift cards and subscriptions are always welcome. From meal delivery and uber rides to magazine/TV streaming subscriptions and gift cards to purchase books, audio, and games, there are plenty of options to choose from.

Gifts That Can’t Be Wrapped

Not all gifts can be wrapped up with a pretty bow but they are no less appreciated and often the most remembered.  Sarah Connor recalls such a gift: “One of my neighbors came round once a week, took a load of washing, brought it back clean and folded. I had two small children. That made such a difference. But it’s not something you could wrap up!”

Offer to walk the dog, carpool kids to school, do grocery shopping, drop off some meals. “Cooking is a chore,” says Nancy, especially when the patient is fatigued from treatment. “A warm (or cold) food item is so appreciated by the entire family.”

Give the Gift of Kindness

Finally, don’t underestimate the simple gift of kindness. Cancer can be a lonely and isolating time. A card or note to let your loved one know you are thinking of them can go a long way to helping a person feel less alone.

To quote Allie Moon (@alliemoonUK) “I think predominantly it’s knowing that someone is there for you, to listen and to be present. Other than that anything that provides a wee bit of comfort or joy is gratefully received.”

What I Wish I Knew

Notable News June 2021

You might want to put on a fresh pot of coffee for this one. Lemon Frost geckos, genetically engineered mice, and American Lobsters have a lot to teach us about cancer; it looks like it’s past time to cut down on the amount of red meat we eat; there could be a new treatment for metastatic prostate cancer; and there are some clinical trials under way for cancer vaccines using the same technology as the Covid-19 vaccines. We’ll be hearing a lot about mRNA in the coming years.

The mRNA vaccine technology used to create the Covid-19 vaccines is the result of nearly two decades of research by scientists in many fields, including cancer, and now researchers are hoping to apply the technology to cancer vaccines, reports medicalxpress.com. The mRNA technology is flexible and versatile, and that makes it ideal for treating many diseases. For example, in Covid-19 vaccines, the mRNA works as a protective measure fighting off invading cells, but as a cancer vaccine, mRNA works more as a treatment. It works by motivating T cells to kill cancer cells, similar to how immunotherapy works. Like immunotherapy, the mRNA vaccines would need to be personalized to each patient, and that could be a challenge in the development of the vaccines. Despite any challenges, clinical trials for mRNA cancer vaccines are already underway. Learn more about the exciting technology here.

In addition to the prospect of new vaccines, there could be a breakthrough in treating prostate cancer, reports Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center at mskcc.org. A therapy called Lu-PSMA-617 has been developed to attach to and kill the cancer cell using radiation. The treatment works on cancer cells that have been resistant to other therapies, as is often the case in prostate cancer after it has spread. Lu-PSMA-617 recently received Breakthrough Therapy designation from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which will help speed up the development and review of the therapy. Learn more about the promising treatment here.

What we eat and drink continues to affect our cancer risk. Researchers may have identified the connection between diets rich in red meat and colorectal cancer, reports medicalxpress.com. While experts have long advised against eating red meat to prevent colorectal cancer, there was no definite proof of a connection between red meat consumption and colorectal cancer. However, researchers have now discovered that there are specific patterns of DNA damage, called alkylation, caused by eating a lot of red meat. Learn more about the findings here.

While you are avoiding red meat, you can fill up on coffee. Drinking three to four cups of coffee a day could reduce your risk of liver cancer and other liver diseases, reports usatoday.com. The authors of a study in the United Kingdom say that they can’t definitively prove that coffee lowers the risk of liver disease, but there was a noticeable reduction in liver-related disease among coffee drinkers. Researchers advised that people should follow healthy practices like eating well and exercising in addition to drinking coffee. Also, don’t overdo it. The study found that any more than three to four cups a day did not provide additional benefits. Learn more here.

We continue to have a lot to learn from the animal kingdom. A gecko named Mr. Frosty could be the key to finding treatment for skin cancer, reports sciencenews.org. Mr. Frosty is a Lemon Frost gecko, a type particularly prone to tumors. Researchers collected DNA from Mr. Frosty and many other lizards and were able to use the data to link tumor growth to a gene called SPINT1. The gene has also been linked to melanoma in humans, which could mean that Lemon Frost geckos could be used to research treatments for skin cancer. Learn more about Mr. Frosty here.

Genetically engineered mice provide a great research model for humans. Scientists have developed a new technique to determine which cancer research models are the most similar to cancer cells that grow in humans, reports sciencedaily.com, and the most similar are genetically engineered mice and 3D balls of human tissue called tumoroids. The technique, called CancerCellNet, is computer based and compares RNA sequences of a research model with data from a cancer genome atlas to determine how well the two match. The mice and the tumoroids were the closest match in four out of every five tumor types tested. Researchers found that human cancer cells grown in culture dishes are the least similar. Learn more here.

Lobsters seem to age better than anything on the planet. Scientists are studying lobsters to see if their longevity and ability to stay mostly cancer free can provide answers for humans about aging and disease prevention, reports sciencemag.org. Lobsters live up to 100 years in the wild, do not lose strength or fertility with age, and they very rarely get cancer. While the complete set of lobster genes is so long that researchers are still uncovering it, they are hopeful that more research could provide insight into how lobsters stay cancer free and how humans may be able to benefit from the information. Learn more here.


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How Stress Can Play a Role at the Time of a Cancer Diagnosis

How Stress Can Play a Role at the Time of a Cancer Diagnosis from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

MPN Network Managers Jeff and Summer share how they’ve overcome and continue to overcome the stresses that follow a cancer diagnosis. 

Although, surprised at the time of her diagnosis Summer remained positive. As a care partner at the time of diagnosis, Jeff was fearful because he knew very little about myelofibrosis. To counteract this stress, he armored hisself with knowledge from various resources. Both Jeff and Summer use their hobbies as an outlet whether it’s nature photography or teaching improv classes to further relieve stress. 

Want to connect with Jeff and Summer? Email them at question@powerfulpatient.org or text EMPOWER to (833)213-6657. 

Digital Health Roundup: June 2021

Digital healthcare is creating a better experience for patients and employees; one hospital has the data to prove it. Seniors, in particular, benefit from telehealth, and a bipartisan group of senators is trying to ensure that telehealth access is here to stay, but data privacy is a concern that experts say needs to be addressed.

Mobile healthcare apps may have some serious privacy problems, reports mobihealthnews.com. A study of more than 20,000 medical, health and fitness apps showed that the apps collect personal user information, but that it is not always secure, and the privacy practices are not always made clear. The study showed that 88 percent of mobile health apps could collect and share user data that includes contact information and user location. While the study also revealed that only 4 percent of the apps actually share user data, experts remain concerned about the privacy and data collection risks. Get more information here.

When it comes to virtual visits with their primary care doctors, a new study shows that telehealth is an effective form of care for senior citizens, says healthcareitnews.com. The study analyzed more than 300,000 telehealth visits which showed that virtual healthcare visits were successful in treating and solving the needs of patients in most cases. Researchers found that seniors were most likely to use telehealth visits for upper respiratory infections, urinary tract infections, and skin conditions. The study is encouraging for the future of care for seniors, as the effectiveness of telehealth visits is important for patients with mobility and other challenges that may prevent them from being seen by a provider in person. Learn more here.

Lawmakers are aware of the benefits of telehealth to seniors and those in rural areas, and they are trying to protect them. A bipartisan group of senators introduced a new bill this month that would continue access to telehealth for elderly and rural patients, reports pymnts.com. The Protecting Rural Telehealth Access Act aims to permanently expand patient access to telehealth. The bill would allow healthcare providers to offer virtual care, including consultations through telephone calls, to Medicare patients anywhere in the country. While the demand for telehealth is no longer as high as it was during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, the demand is still higher than it was pre-pandemic especially in rural areas where access to care is often limited. Learn more here.

Digital healthcare technology is not only beneficial to patients in their own homes, but also during in-person visits. A New York hospital is using digital technology to improve patient satisfaction ratings, reports healthtechmagazine.net. Since 2018, Lenox Hill Hospital has been using a digital rounding platform to gather patient information and coordinate patient visits with nurses, the food and nutrition team, and other staff members. Collecting patient information in the digital rounding app from all staff members who visit the patient helps the teams anticipate and address patient needs. Hospital leadership says the system makes patient interaction proactive rather than reactive. The rounding platform was built with the input of nurses and has led to improvement in better experiences for patients and employees. Learn more about the Lenox Hill digital rounding program here.

The Best Medical Alert Systems

Editor’s Note: This guide was originally published by AssistedLiving.org here.


Cancer in the elderly presents a great challenge. Their already vulnerable bodies become weaker as therapy wears them down, and they might even face dangers in their own home. They could fall or be too weak to react to call for help, so seniors and their families use senior care facilities, caregivers, adult centers, or other options to ensure their loved ones’ safety.

A medical alert system is one option. It is a valuable life-saving device and can protect seniors in emergencies, providing peace of mind for caregivers and loved ones.

To help buyers sift through their options, we’ve created this guide that compares 10 top providers based on the quality of their service, equipment options, cost, and overall value.


Medical alert systems are valuable life-saving devices. They can protect seniors in case of emergency while providing untold peace of mind for caregivers and loved ones. In studies, nine out of 10 subscribers reported that their medical alert system helped them maintain their independence.

Personal emergency response systems are often used for fall detection, but they can also provide a lifeline in case of medical emergencies related to diabetes, heart attack or stroke. Additionally, they can be activated in case of a fire or burglary. Medical monitoring companies can even help during unforeseen everyday situations as one subscriber discovered when she couldn’t get out of the tub.

Today, smartphones and voice-activated devices have created some alternatives for seniors who may need to contact a neighbor or relative in case of an emergency, but professionally monitored systems still have their benefits. No other system provides a direct link to trained operators or emergency contacts along with advanced features like GPS tracking.

Telephone-based monitoring companies emerged in the 1970s, and many providers have been providing services continuously since then. There are also some newcomers that focus on innovative algorithm-based technology and transparent pricing. In fact, more than 260 medical monitoring services are registered with the Better Business Bureau.

Helping Buyers Narrow Down Their Options

To help consumers sift through their options, we’ve created this guide that compares 10 of the top providers based on the quality of their service, equipment options, cost, and overall value. Each company was evaluated, ranked, and given a star rating, and the companies’ profiles give you a detailed look at the company’s ranking and offerings to help you see how these products might fit into your life. We’ve also created a consumer guide that outlines some of the most important purchasing considerations. Finally, we’ve answered some common questions to help you make an informed decision if you decide that a medical alert system is right for you.

How We Chose the Best Medical Alert Systems

One of the challenges of selecting the best medical alert companies is that, particularly on the surface, many of the deals appear similar. To get past this confusion, we identified several traits that the top providers share.

Monitoring Plans

Nearly all companies offer customers the choice of landline or cellular service for in-home monitoring as well as mobile devices equipped with GPS location tracking. Across the industry, it was common to see surcharges for fall detection, wellness calls and other premium features. If you’re interested in these services, be sure to add $5-$10 to the monthly fee per item when comparing plans.

Response Times

Comparing response times is one of the most effective ways to evaluate service quality. Some providers answered help calls in less than 20 seconds while others took as long as seven minutes. When determining service quality, we looked for companies with multiple U.S.-based call centers and professional operators who have received specialized training.

Reviews and Qualifications

Subscriber satisfaction is another important consideration. We cut one provider from our list because customers had trouble getting their money back after trying the service. Industry certifications from organizations such as Underwriters Laboratories and The Monitoring Association also gave us insight into the provider’s service quality.

Equipment Features

While many providers use nearly identical base units and pendants, we noticed some differences in the product’s battery life and signal range. We also considered the system’s audio quality, weight and appearance while giving preference to devices that were easy to use and maintain.

Ethics

Deceptive pricing schemes and hidden charges booted several companies off our list of contenders. Nearly all of our top picks have monthly service agreements with no long-term commitment, and many offer a 30-day money-back guarantee that gives customers an opportunity to try the service.

In addition to using the above criteria to select the top medical alert companies, we ranked the top twenty providers based on thirty different factors. Each company was awarded a star rating based on this analysis. For more information on our ranking process and the metrics used, read “A Full Explanation of Our Ranking Methodology.”

The 10 Best Medical Alert Companies

COMPANY BASE COST STARTING COSTS PLANS FEATURES STAR RATING
MobileHelp $19.95 — $44.95 $49.95 One-Time Fee +$15 Shipping with Month-to-Month Payment Landline, Cellular, Bundle Fall Detection GPS Location Tracking 5.0/5
LifeFone $24.95 — $39.95 None Landline, Cellular, Bundle Fall Detection Medication Reminders Wellness Calls Caregiver Apps 4.6/5
Bay Alarm Medical $19.95 — $29.95 $99 device fee for mobile +$9.95 Shipping Landline, Cellular, Bundle Fall Detection Location Tracking Caregiver Tools 4.2/5
Medical Guardian $29.95 — $44.95 $124.95 device fee for Mini +$10 Shipping Waived with Annual Subscription Landline, Cellular Fall Detection GPS Location Tracking Caregiver App 4.1/5
GetSafe $24.95 $79-$229 equipment fee + $12 for Shipping Cellular Hands Free Voice-Activation Caregiver App 4.0/5
Medical Alert $22.95 — $37.95 $9.50 Shipping with Month-to-Month Plan Landline, Cellular Fall Detection Caregiver Apps 3.7/5
QMedic $30 — $45 None Landline, Cellular Activity Tracking GPS Location Tracking Caregiver Dashboard 3.7/5
BlueStar Senior Tech $23.95 — $35.95 None Landline, Cellular, Bluetooth Fall Detection Activity Monitoring Family and Mobile Apps 3.1/5
LifeStation $19.95 — $34.95 $50 Activation Fee for Mobile with GPS and Standard Payment Package Landline, Cellular Fall Detection GPS Location Tracking Caregiver Apps Alexa Integration 3.1/5
Lifenet $29.95 — $49.95 None Landline, Cellular Fall Detection GPS Location Tracking 2.65/5

MobileHelp: 5.0/5 Stars

Best for On-Demand Telehealth Services

MobileHelp is an industry leader offering six medical alert systems with numerous premium features and accessories available. While its low prices for high-quality services is noteworthy on its own, MobileHelp recently made their offerings even more useful with the introduction of MDLIVE. MDLIVE is an on-demand telehealth service that allows MobileHelp users to speak with a board-certified physician via phone or video without scheduling an appointment or paying a copay. All MobileHelp customers may add MDLIVE to their service plan for under $10 per month.

MobileHelp’s Star Rating

MobileHelp earned a perfect 5-star rating and ranked first among the top 20 medical alert companies we reviewed. Its number-one spot cannot be attributed to just one thing. MobileHelp scored highly in all ranking categories, and particularly excelled in the In-Home Systems, Mobile Systems, and Reliability and Reputation categories, earning a perfect 10 in all three. MobileHelp’s in-home system is the least expensive of all companies we reviewed, and it is one of the very few companies that does not charge an extra fee for a cellular version. In addition, MobileHelp offers a generous free-trial period of 30 days and is extremely transparent about its pricing and policies on its website.

Highlights

  • MobileHelp devices have earned a Good Manufacturing Practice seal from the FDA.
  • The brand’s medical alert systems have multiple third-party quality certifications.
  • MobileHelp is based in Florida and serves customers in all 50 states.
  • Dispatch services are provided by Rapid Response, one of the nation’s top monitoring companies.
  • LanguageLine connects callers to interpreters specializing in more than 240 languages.
  • According to company data, MobileHelp answers an emergency call every eight minutes.
  • The company is an accredited BBB member with an A+ rating.

The Takeaway

Whether you’re shopping for in-home or remote coverage, MobileHelp is a strong contender. It’s a great choice if you’re looking for a budget-friendly package that you can share with a partner or spouse. The company offers a suite of free and paid caregiver tools through MobileHelp Connect as well as a line of attractive jewelry-style pendants made by Trelawear.

PLAN MONTHLY PRICE STARTING COSTS SERVICE RANGE BATTERY LIFE EXTRA FEATURES
MobileHelp Classic $19.95 $49.95 One-Time Fee and $15 Shipping with Month-to-Month Payment Cellular 1,300′ Console: 30 Hours
Pendant: 5 Years
Optional Fall Detection
MobileHelp Wired Home $24.95 $15 Shipping with Month-to-Month Payment Landline 1,300′ Console: 30 Hours
Pendant: 5 Years
Optional Fall Detection
MobileHelp Solo $37.95 $15 Shipping with Month-to-Month Payment Cellular Nationwide 24 Hours GPS Location Tracking
Optional Fall Detection
MobileHelp Duo $41.95 $15 Shipping with Month-to-Month Payment Cellular Nationwide Varies GPS Location Tracking
Optional Fall Detection
Mobile Duo $44.95 $15 Shipping with Month-to-Month Payment Cellular Nationwide 24 Hours GPS Location Tracking
Optional Fall Detection
MobileHelp Touch $49.95 $15 Shipping with Semi-Annual Payment Cellular Nationwide 24 hours; 12-hour backup for tablet GPS Location Tracking
Optional Fall Detection

What Customers Like

Adult children researching medical alert systems for their parents repeatedly comment on MobileHelp’s reputation and number of positive online reviews. A son who subscribed for his parents said, “Several reputable entities rated MobileHelp highly in the field. Mobilehelp had 2,300+ reviews with a 4.6/5 rating overall.” Others talk about the exceptional service, including one son who stated “Great customer service from ordering to monitoring.”

Learn more about how to get a Medical Alert System from MobileHelp.

What Customers Don’t Like

In the rare complaints about MobileHelp service, subscribers most often cite difficulties canceling a subscription. A problem with the GPS identifying an incorrect location is another concern reported by customers.


LifeFone: 4.6/5 Stars

Best for Industry Experience

Based in White Plains, New York, LifeFone has specialized in medical alert services since the 1970s, and it continues to be one of the nation’s leading providers. LifeFone is a top choice for seniors seeking in-home or mobile coverage, and its two-in-one package is a great value. This enduring brand excels in all areas, which is why it’s been recognized by Harvard Medical School, Consumers Digest and review sites such as TrustPilot.

LifeFone’s Star Rating

LifeFone ranked second-highest among the top medical alert systems, with an almost-perfect score of 4.6/5 stars. LifeFone scored in the top 30% in all ranking categories, but particularly excelled in Availability of Add-Ons with a score of 10.0. LifeFone was one of only two companies to offer all of the add-ons for which we evaluated, including less-common features like medication reminders and activity tracking. LifeFone also scored highly thanks to its consumer-friendly policies, including a 30-day money-back guarantee, $0 activation fees, and a price-lock guarantee that prevents future rate hikes.

Highlights

  • LifeFone has been endorsed by the National Council on Aging and WebMD.
  • New customers can take advantage of a 30-day trial.
  • Helpful dispatchers respond to calls in approximately one minute.
  • The company’s monitoring centers aren’t certified, but the brand has substantial experience.
  • LifeFone has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
  • Free basic protection is available for spouses.

The Takeaway

Established providers sometimes lose their competitive edge, but LifeFone holds its own by offering a comfortable balance of quality and value. Its equipment performs well, and its fee structure allows subscribers to save money or purchase optional upgrades, such as daily wellness checks, scheduled phone calls or medication reminders. In each area, LifeFone provides the level of service that we expect from a top-tier provider.

PLAN MONTHLY PRICE STARTING COSTS SERVICE RANGE BATTERY LIFE EXTRA FEATURES
At-Home Landline $29.95 None Landline 1,300′ Console: 32 Hours
Pendant: 2—5 Years
Optional Fall Detection
At-Home Cellular $34.95 None Cellular 1,300′ Console: 32 Hours
Pendant: 2—5 Years
Optional Fall Detection
At-Home & On-The-Go With GPS $36.95 None Cellular 600′ (Home), 350′ (Mobile) 30 Hours Optional Fall Detection
GPS Location Tracking
At-Home & On-The-Go Necklace $43.95 None Cellular Nationwide 30 Days (Standby) Optional Fall Detection
GPS Location Tracking

What Customers Like

Subscribers and their family members frequently mention the positive experiences they have interacting with LifeFone customer service reps and call center operators. One daughter wrote, “I couldn’t ask for a better customer service. It was excellent. And if I have any questions, I don’t think twice about picking up the phone, calling and asking.” Customers also recommend the service and appreciate the security it provides.

What Customers Don’t Like

The sensitivity of the device and a somewhat slow response time are drawbacks mentioned by some reviewers. Other issues subscribers report are the equipment’s limited range and a lack of tech support on weekends.


Bay Alarm Medical: 4.2/5 Stars

Best for Overall Value

Bay Alarm is a longstanding security and medical alert company with more than 70 years of experience. The California-based company offers quality equipment and reliable nationwide service at a competitive price. However, packages that offer Bay Alarm Medical’s industry-leading devices and accessories together at an affordable rate are one of the brand’s strengths. Its systems are available as standalone products or in premium packages, which include additional features and add-on devices for a low, bundled cost. These packages make Bay Alarm Medical’s high-quality devices even more affordable, offering consumers incredible value. And when it comes to monitoring credentials, Bay Alarm Medical is among the best. The company operates three U.S.-based call centers that are certified by The Monitoring Association and meet UL standards.

Bay Alarm Medical’s Star Rating

Bay Alarm Medical earned a star rating of 4.2/5, making it the third-highest rated medical alert company out of the 22 we ranked and reviewed. The company scored highly in the In-Home Systems and Mobile Systems categories due to its low device prices. In both categories, Bay Alarm Medical offered the least expensive device. Bay Alarm Medical earned its highest score in the Reliability and Reputation category, which can be primarily attributed to its A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, extremely well-designed and informative website, and very quick average response time of 10 seconds.

Highlights

  • Bay Alarm Medical is an established company owned by one of the nation’s leading security companies.
  • Bay Alarm Medical’s monitoring centers meet the industry’s highest quality standards as defined by UL and TMA.
  • Discounts are available to members of AARP, USAA and other national organizations.
  • Bay Alarm Medical offers a risk-free 30-day trial, and subscribers can cancel at any time.
  • Spouses receive free coverage.

The Takeaway

If you want protection that covers you at home and on the go, Bay Alarm Medical offers some of the best bundled rates in the industry. However, the company does have a $10 surcharge for cellular service. Bay Alarm Medical devices give you access to emergency response teams at home, on the road, and nearly anywhere nationwide. Additionally, customers enjoy the peace of mind of working with an industry leader.

PLAN MONTHLY PRICE STARTING COSTS SERVICE RANGE BATTERY LIFE EXTRA FEATURES
In-Home $19.95 $9.95 Shipping Landline (+$10 for Cellular) 1,000′ Console: 32 Hours
Pendant: 5 Years
Optional Fall Detection
In-Car $29.95 $9.95 Shipping Cellular N/A N/A Crash Detection
Caregiver App
Mobile $24.95 $99 device purchase fee + $9.95 Shipping Cellular Nationwide 72 Hours Optional Fall Detection Optional GPS Location Tracking
SOS Smartwatch $24.95 $179 device purchase fee + $9.95 Shipping Cellular Nationwide 18-24 Hours Built-in Step Tracker Touchscreen Two-Way Communication

What Customers Like

Bay Alarm Medical’s knowledgeable, patient staff receives overwhelmingly positive feedback. One reviewer shared, “The rep was very helpful. [He] took his time so I could understand everything he was telling me. He spoke very clear and was very polite.” Reviewers also appreciate Bay Alarm’s ease of installation and range of choices. According to one subscriber, “It was easy to set up, great options and features, easy to configure for our needs … .”

What Customers Don’t Like

There are few subscriber complaints about Bay Alarm. The only issues reported concern batteries losing charge too quickly, contradictory instructions about how to correctly charge the devices and moderately long hold times when contacting customer service.


Medical Guardian: 4.1/5 Stars

Best Customer Service

Medical Guardian offers customers six high-quality medical alert device options, including the advanced Freedom Guardian smartwatch. While its wide variety of device options and reputation of reliability would make Medical Guardian a standout company on its own, its top-of-the-line customer service makes Medical Guardian an even more appealing option for buyers. Medical Guardian strives to assist customers every step of the way, from helping them determine which device is the best option for them to providing ongoing support after purchase. The dedicated Customer Care Team is available via phone and live chat to assist customers with any of their needs.

Medical Guardian’s Star Rating

Medical Guardian ranked among the top four of the medical alert companies we reviewed, with a score of 4.1/5  stars. The company scored highly in all categories and excelled in the Availability of Add-Ons metrics. Medical Guardian offers almost all of the add-on devices we researched, including sought-after activity tracking and real-time location tracking. The company also received above-average ratings in the In-Home Systems, Mobile Systems, and Extra Costs categories, contributing to its all-around high score.

Highlights

  • Medical Guardian maintains five core values for its business practices: Customers Above all Else, Innovation as our Motivation, Passion for Purpose, Building Meaningful Relationships, and Excellence in Results
  • Medical Guardian’s monitoring center is certified by the Underwriters’ Laboratory, Factory Manual Approved, and The Monitoring Association 5-Diamond Certified.
  • Medical Guardian is a member of the Electronic Security Association, acknowledging the company’s commitment to providing excellent service in emergencies.
  • All customers receive a free Welcome Kit that includes many helpful items such as a detailed user manual and an EMT information card.
  • Medical Guardian’s emergency monitoring services are available in all 50 states, and operators are 100% U.S.-based.
  • The company maintains an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.

The Takeaway

With six device offerings spanning basic in-home systems to the technologically-advanced smartwatch device, Medical Guardian has a system that will meet almost anyone’s needs. Combined with its commitment to customer support and very detailed website, including a helpful Product Quiz feature to help prospective customers determine which device is best for them, Medical Guardian will be a particularly good choice for first-time buyers of medical alert systems.

PLAN MONTHLY PRICE STARTING COSTS SERVICE RANGE BATTERY LIFE EXTRA FEATURES
Classic Guardian $29.95 $10 Shipping (waived with annual payment) Landline 1,300′ 32-hour backup Optional fall detection
Home Guardian $34.95 $10 Shipping (waived with annual payment) Cellular 600′ 30-hour backup Optional fall detection
Active Guardian $39.95 $10 Shipping (waived with annual payment) Mobile Nationwide 5 days GPS Location Tracking Optional Fall Detection
Mini Guardian $39.95 $124.95 one-time equipment fee $10 Shipping (waived with annual payment) Mobile Nationwide 5 days GPS+WiFi+Triangulation Location Tracking Optional Fall Detection
Mobile Guardian $44.95 $10 Shipping (waived with annual payment) Mobile Nationwide 24 hours GPS Location Tracking
Freedom Guardian Smartwatch $44.95 $299.95 one-time equipment fee $10 Shipping (waived with annual payment) Mobile Nationwide 2 days Advanced Location Tracking Text-to-Speech Messaging Reminders and Alerts Low Battery Notification

What Customers Like

Current and past Medical Guardian customers speak highly of their experience with the company’s products and services. Many mentioned the great customer service and customer service agents’ willingness to assist them, with one happy customer describing the “Outstanding services. Excellent customer services.” Another happy customer, whose mother uses a Medical Guardian device, said “I cannot say enough good things about Medical Guardian… Great staff answering her call. Very professional, and reassuring! I highly recommend them!”

What Customers Don’t Like

Some customers have expressed dissatisfaction with their experience returning their Medical Guardian device and canceling service. Unsatisfied reviewers were surprised by the restocking fee of $50 that Medical Guardian charges upon return, and by the $15 they had to pay for return shipping.


GetSafe: 4.0/5 Stars

Best for Simple, Hands-Free Protection

GetSafe takes a different approach to emergency monitoring than other companies in the medical alert industry. Unlike essentially all other medical alert systems which have a wearable component, GetSafe is an entirely hands-free system (though a wearable is included for those who prefer to have a personal alert button on their body). Many seniors and their families say that the biggest barrier to emergency protection is getting their loved one to remember or be willing to wear the device every day. GetSafe eliminates this problem by using a combination of voice-activated systems and emergency buttons placed throughout the user’s home, so there’s no need to remember to put on a pendant or wristband each day. GetSafe’s unique approach to monitoring can be the perfect option for those who haven’t had luck with traditional medical alert systems in the past.

GetSafe’s Star Rating

GetSafe rounds out the top five medical alert companies with a score of 4.0/5. While its starting costs can be high, especially for its more comprehensive systems, the monthly monitoring fee is among the lowest of all companies we reviewed. In addition to earning a 9.0/10 in the In-Home Systems category for its low monthly cost, GetSafe scored highly in the Availability of Add-Ons ranking. All GetSafe users and their families can access an accompanying mobile app for $5 a month, and wall buttons are included with every service package. GetSafe earned its highest score in the Reliability and Reputation category with one of the fastest average emergency call response times (10 seconds) and an easy-to-navigate website with a helpful live-chat feature.

Highlights

  • All GetSafe systems are hands-free.
  • GetSafe offers one of the lowest monthly monitoring rates.
  • The system is easy to install and the GetSafe website features helpful installation videos, meaning no installation fees for the customer.
  • The certified monitoring center is U.S.-based and operates 24/7.
  • GetSafe offers a risk-free 30-day trial.

The Takeaway

GetSafe helps fill a hole in the medical alert industry for those for whom wearing a device every single day just isn’t possible. Its products are perfect for seniors who want protection in their home without having to remember a wearable device. GetSafe currently does not offer any mobile devices, so it isn’t suitable for those looking for on-the-go emergency coverage. While startup costs can be high, especially for larger service packages, the low monthly monitoring fee helps keep costs reasonable overall.

PLAN MONTHLY PRICE STARTING COSTS SERVICE RANGE BATTERY LIFE EXTRA FEATURES
Starter $24.95 $79 Equipment Cost Cellular 20 feet voice range; 1,000 feet pendant range 32-hour Backup Completely Hands-Free
Optional Fall Detection
Standard $24.95 $149 Equipment Cost Cellular 20 feet voice range; 1,000 feet pendant range 32-hour Backup Completely Hands-Free
Optional Fall Detection
Select $24.95 $229 Equipment Cost Cellular 20 feet voice range; 1,000 feet pendant range 32-hour Backup Completely Hands-Free
Optional Fall Detection

What Customers Like

Customer reviews for GetSafe skew positive, with one customer describing the company as “very easy to deal with.” Another reviewer appreciates the “Step by step guidelines on what and how to do what you need” that GetSafe provides.

What Customers Don’t Like

Most negative reviews for GetSafe found online are from the company’s time as a home security system retailer, so it’s possible the same concerns will not apply for medical alert customers. A common issue among unhappy reviewers was payment processing problems.


Medical Alert: 3.9/5 Stars

Best for Quality Service With Annual Discounts

Medical Alert is one of the nation’s largest PERS providers. It’s owned by Connect America, a national company that operates several monitoring firms. Medical Alert offers customers the choice of monthly, semiannual, and annual billing agreements with no long-term commitment. In addition to receiving discounts that can bring monthly costs below $20, customers who select an annual or semiannual plan get extra benefits, such as free shipping and a lockbox that can help emergency responders enter your home. Optional fall detection is available with all plans for a monthly fee.

Medical Alert’s Star Rating

Medical Alert earned a star rating of 3.9/5, making it the sixth-highest rated medical alert company of the top twenty we reviewed. Medical Alert offers quality devices at a low cost compared to other top companies, as demonstrated by its very high scores in the Extra Costs, In-Home Systems, and Mobile Systems categories. In all three categories, Medical Alert ranks the second-highest with scores of 9.0 or higher. Its monthly rates for its mobile and in-home systems are among the lowest in the industry, and the costs go down even further when paid for on a semiannual or annual basis. Medical Alert also keeps startup costs to a minimum, only charging a small shipping fee and no other one-time device, activation, or installation fees.

Highlights

  • Medical Alert serves customers in the United States, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
  • UL-certified monitoring centers employ bilingual agents who are fluent in English and Spanish.
  • Caregivers can take advantage of the 365Access app, which includes location tracking and notification tools.
  • Specially trained SIA-certified operators answer calls in 30 seconds or less and stay on the line until help arrives.
  • Medical Alert offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

The Takeaway

This Connect America company is impressive with its customer-focused features that benefit seniors and caregivers. It answers calls promptly, provides professional service and rewards loyal subscribers by offering semiannual and annual billing discounts. The company also offers a range of vanity pendants that resemble designer jewelry.

PLAN MONTHLY PRICE STARTING COSTS SERVICE RANGE BATTERY LIFE EXTRA FEATURES
At-Home Landline $22.95 $9.50 Shipping with Month-to-Month Plan Landline 1,300′ Console: 32 Hours
Pendant: 2—5 Years
Optional Fall Detection
At-Home No Landline $32.95 $9.50 Shipping with Month-to-Month Plan Cellular 1,300′ Console: 32 Hours
Pendant: 2—5 Years
Optional Fall Detection
At-Home & On-The-Go Package $37.95 $9.50 Shipping with Month-to-Month Plan Cellular 600′ (Home), 350′ (Mobile) Varies GPS Location Tracking
Optional Fall Detection
On the Go $37.95 $9.50 Shipping with Month-to-Month Plan Cellular Nationwide 5 Days (30 Days Standby) GPS Location Tracking
Optional Fall Detection

What Customers Like

Many subscribers find that Medical Alert gives them greater security and peace of mind. They also appreciate the friendliness of the staff, and the company’s fast response when help is needed. One woman shares, “I’ve had Medical Alert for about 12 years … Their reps have all been nice. When I fell in the bathroom, I called them and they answered right away.”

What Customers Don’t Like

A lengthy wait for customer service assistance is one of the few downsides mentioned in reviews of Medical Alert. Other subscribers cite the weight of the device and how easy it’s activated as disadvantages.


QMedic: 3.7/5 Stars

Best for Innovative Features

Created by MIT scientists, Boston-based QMedic has taken medical alert technology to the next level. It provides a user-friendly experience for seniors along with advanced features geared toward tech-savvy caregivers. One of the brand’s most unique services is compliance monitoring, which detects whether or not the user is actually wearing their medical alert device. Caregivers also have access to an online dashboard which provides a visual overview of the subscriber’s activity levels, including periods of sleep or activity. Automatic alerts notify caregivers when unusual patterns are detected, and algorithms may trigger automatic wellness calls. This system is designed to prevent false alarms while providing enhanced peace of mind. Although QMedic is developing fall-detection features, its approach emphasizes the value of nonintrusive activity tracking and passive monitoring.

QMedic’s Star Rating

QMedic earned a score of 3.7/5 stars. Its place in the top ten best medical alert providers can largely be attributed to its advanced device features including compliance monitoring and generous discounts for annual subscribers. Though its devices are priced above the industry average when paid for monthly, the annual rates reduce the overall cost by up to $140 per year. And while QMedic has less industry experience than some competitors with 10 years in the medical alert space, its informative and user-friendly website, free trial period, and A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau contributed to a high score in the Reliability and Reputation category.

Highlights

  • QMedic is a leader in passive medical monitoring.
  • The company uses proprietary tracking technology developed by MIT experts.
  • Alert systems offer excellent performance and onboard self-testing tools that minimize maintenance requirements.
  • Calls are routed to two U.S.-based monitoring centers that respond in 30 seconds on average.
  • Contracted monitoring centers in Utah and Idaho are certified by UL and TMA.
  • QMedic supports active or proactive alerts in addition to wellness calls.
  • The service is backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee.

The Takeaway

This service stands out for its user-friendly products, no-nonsense pricing and innovative technology. We like the simple interface and onboard self-testing function, which provides enhanced peace of mind. However, seniors may need to partner with a relative to take full advantage of QMedic’s suite of activity tracking tools.

PLAN MONTHLY PRICE STARTING COSTS SERVICE RANGE BATTERY LIFE EXTRA FEATURES
In-Home $30 None Landline/Cellular 1,000′ 2 Years Activity Tracking
Self-Testing
Mobile GPS $45 None Cellular Nationwide 14 Days GPS Location Tracking

What Customers Like

QMedic is highly rated for its reliability and advanced features. Family members in particular appreciate being alerted to unusual sleep or activity patterns, or when their loved one isn’t wearing the device. The uncomplicated set up is also a plus; as one reviewer says, “Set up is really easy. In a nutshell, it’s plug, test and play!”

What Customers Don’t Like

The only downside mentioned in reviews of QMedic is the lack of an automatic fall detection option for use at home or when on the go.


BlueStar Senior Tech: 3.1/5

Best for Customized Service Plans

BlueStar Senior Tech is a veteran-owned business that has provided medical monitoring and personal emergency response systems for more than 20 years. The company offers a wide selection of equipment and service plans at a variety of price points. While the brand’s expansive product catalog adds to the complexity of the decision-making process, BlueStar Senior Tech is “committed to providing a customized approach to [its] customers.” It does not believe in a “one-size-fits-all” approach to emergency medical monitoring, and will work with prospective and active users to find a device and plan that meets their specific needs.

BlueStar Senior Tech’s Star Rating

BlueStar Senior Tech’s star rating of 3.1/5 makes it the eighth-highest rated of the top 20 medical alert companies. The company received a score of 9.0/10 in the Availability of Add-Ons category, offering almost all common add-ons and some less-common features including on-demand location information and medication reminders. While its prices for in-home medical alert systems and shipping are higher than average, its large selection of devices and add-ons helps ensure that all BlueStar Senior Tech customers are able to build a service plan that fully meets their needs. It also offers military discounts to help make its devices more affordable for veterans and their spouses.

Highlights

  • Blue Star Service Solutions is a full member of the Medical Alert Monitoring Association.
  • The company offers military discounts and supports a variety of nonprofits that serve veterans.
  • Mobile and in-home systems have two-way voice capabilities and support advanced features, including fall detection.
  • Some devices can communicate with health monitoring systems, medical devices and smartphone apps.
  • Blue Star offers a selection of value-added features, including caregiver dashboards and severe weather alerts.
  • Mobile pendants are waterproof and resist extreme temperatures.

The Takeaway

Blue Star offers a wide selection of unique products ranging from basic in-home systems to portable GPS-enabled panic buttons and stylish BellPal watches that can interact with an emergency app on your smartphone. The company sells self-monitored systems and offers some unique features for caregivers. Rates are competitive, and there are options for every lifestyle.

PLAN MONTHLY PRICE STARTING COSTS SERVICE RANGE BATTERY LIFE EXTRA FEATURES
Sentry $23.95 None Landline 600′ 24 Hours w/o Power
SafeGuard $27.95 None Cellular 600′ 36 Hours w/o Power Fall Detection
Family App
Ranger 4G $31.95 None Cellular Nationwide 40 Hours (Standby) Fall Detection
GPS Location Tracking
Mobile App
Admiral Alert $35.95 None Cellular Nationwide 48 Hours Fall Detection
Mobile App
BellPal Watch $9.95 $199.95 Equipment Fee Bluetooth (Requires Smartphone) Nationwide 6 Months Fall Detection
Mobile App

What Customers Like

Reviewers consistently cite Blue Star Senior Tech’s affordable cost, quick response time and polite, knowledgeable operators. Many appreciate that the company is veteran-owned and reliable; as one woman says, “I recommend it to anybody that’s been in the military. They go beyond the call of duty. When they tell you they’re going to do something, they do it.”

What Customers Don’t Like

Subscribers report issues with the range on the mobile device and problems with the accuracy of the GPS locator. Being sent a mobile system instead of a landline equipment was another problem noted by a customer.


LifeStation: 3.1/5 Stars

Best for Caregiver Support

LifeStation has more than 40 years in the medical monitoring business. The brand’s mobile systems include GPS and Wi-Fi tracking capabilities as part of its Find My Loved One feature. “Find My Loved One” allows caregivers to locate the exact location of their loved one’s device on-demand, providing peace of mind for caregivers and other loved ones. As of 2020, LifeStation devices are compatible with Amazon Alexa systems, so caregivers can use their Alexa device to access their loved one’s location and other crucial device information. And with a 24/7 customer service line, LifeStation agents are available around-the-clock to support caregivers with any questions or concerns they have involving their loved one’s medical alert monitoring.

LifeStation’s Star Rating

LifeStation earned a star rating of 3.1/5 stars, making it the ninth-highest rated company out of 22 total contenders. LifeStation received above-average scores in most ranking categories, but its highest was for Availability of Add-Ons. LifeStation offers many of the add-on services and devices we included in our evaluation, including location information on-demand, fall detection, and a device protection plan. And, LifeStation’s in-home and mobile devices were both among some of the least expensive of the companies we ranked.

Highlights

  • LifeStation uses UL- and TMA-certified monitoring centers.
  • Emergency calls are handled by accent-neutral operators based in the United States.
  • Interpretation services support more than 240 languages depending on your preferences.
  • There’s no contract, and customers who cancel in the first 30 days receive a full refund minus shipping.
  • LifeStation’s tracking service uses GPS, Wi-Fi and algorithms to pinpoint the subscriber’s location.
  • LifeStation provides caregiver tools and integrates with Amazon Alexa.

The Takeaway

In an industry where companies sometimes seem like clones, LifeStation has gone out of its way to develop value-added features and caregiver monitoring functions that separate it from the competition. Response times average around 20 seconds, and best of all, its rates are competitive, especially given the quality of the service.

PLAN MONTHLY PRICE STARTING COSTS SERVICE RANGE BATTERY LIFE EXTRA FEATURES
In-Home Traditional $21.95 None Landline 500′ Console: 36 Hours
Pendant: 4 Years
Optional Fall Detection
In-Home Plus $30.95 None Cellular 500′ Console: 36 Hours
Pendant: 4 Years
Optional Fall Detection
Mobile with GPS $37.95 $50 Activation Fee with Standard Payment Package Cellular Nationwide 5 Days Optional Fall Detection
GPS Location Tracking

What Customers Like

Customers consistently praise LifeStation’s patient, courteous staff and the system’s ease of use. One subscriber who installed the system for his elderly parents commented, “The LifeStation team is amazing! Every person I spoke to from the initial call through shipping, setup and testing were so helpful and patient.”

What Customers Don’t Like

The few negatives subscribers report include being charged before the service is activated and difficulties switching plans and returning equipment. The length of time it takes to get a refund when canceling the service was another issue noted.


Lifenet Medical Alert Systems: 2.6/5 Stars

Best for Transparent Pricing

Founded in 2008, Lifenet is a relative newcomer to the industry, and the company impresses with its refreshingly transparent pricing system. Lifenet doesn’t have activation fees or hidden charges. Customers can choose from monthly service plans as well as quarterly and annual options with discounted rates. On top of that, seniors have the freedom to cancel at any time. The company even offers prorated refunds, which is virtually unheard of in the telecom and security industries.

Lifenet’s Star Rating

Lifenet’s transparent pricing model greatly contributed to its star rating of 2.6/5 stars. Though its monthly monitoring costs are higher than the industry average and its offerings somewhat limited, making for lower scores in most ranking categories, Lifenet earned a perfect 10.0/10 score in the Extra Costs category. The only extra cost that Lifenet users will ever face is shipping, which is less than $10. There are no device, activation, or installation fees, and fall detection is even included in the monthly cost for Lifenet’s mobile device. The company’s consumer-friendly cancellation and refund policies also helped Lifenet earn its place in the top ten medical alert companies.

Highlights

  • Lifenet uses 100% U.S.-based monitoring centers that are certified by the Electronic Security Association.
  • Subscribers can customize their emergency response plan and make changes at any time with no additional fee.
  • Add-ons, such as daily wellness calls and extra help buttons, are available for a nominal fee.
  • In-home equipment has an excellent transmission range and long battery life.
  • Lifenet medical monitoring is available in Canada and all 50 states.
  • The company offers shipping, returns and activation at no charge.
  • Call-center operators include EMT-certified medical professionals.

The Takeaway

Lifenet’s base rates are slightly higher than the competition, but there are no hidden fees. With this company, what you see is what you get. Lifenet is a strong choice for seniors seeking reliable service without hidden fees or sales gimmicks.

PLAN MONTHLY PRICE STARTING COSTS SERVICE RANGE BATTERY LIFE EXTRA FEATURES
Home & Garden $29.95 None Landline 1,000′ Console: 32 Hours
Pendant: 4 Years
N/A
Home & Away $49.95 None Cellular Nationwide N/A Fall Detection
GPS Location Tracking

What Customers Like

Lifenet subscribers talk about the company’s fast response time, and the peace of mind that having the service provides. The patient, knowledgeable staff is also commented on. “You went above and beyond to help me. Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions and explain everything to me,” shares one customer.

What Customers Don’t Like

There are few negatives reported about Lifenet. One reviewer who subscribed for a parent found the system somewhat difficult to set up, even with phone assistance from a company representative.


How to Choose a Medical Alert System

Two key considerations when choosing a medical alert system are the type of coverage and extent of protection it provides. In-home systems provide coverage throughout your house and in the yard. Mobile systems offer coverage when you’re on the go. They use a combination of cell phone service and GPS satellites to maintain a constant link between emergency dispatchers and subscribers anywhere in the nation. Mobile and in-home systems are quite specialized, so it’s important to think about the type of coverage you need and what kind of system will work in your environment. Doing so can help you determine which of the following types of systems you need:

  • Landline system. Most in-home medical alert systems connect to your existing phone line using a standard telephone jack. They also work with VoIP service. However, this option may not be as reliable.
  • Cellular or mobile system. Cellular systems are ideal for mobile use as well as homes that don’t have a landline. The SIM card is provided by the company, so there’s no extra fee. However, average rates tend to be higher.
  • Dual system. Combination systems use separate at-home and mobile devices to provide complete protection no matter where you are. They’re also suitable for sharing with a spouse.

Defining the type of system you need is just the starting point. To ensure that you pick the right medical alert system, you also need to:

Consider Base Units, Pendants and Help Buttons

Equipment and device options are fairly standard across the industry, but you still have some choices to make. Most systems have limited aesthetic appeal, and there’s minimal variety between manufacturers. Here are a few of the most common options you can choose from:

  • In-home base units feature an emergency help button, paging functions and built-in speakers that allow seniors to communicate with dispatchers in case of an emergency.
  • Emergency response pendants are designed to be carried with you at all times, even in the shower. Devices can be worn like a watch or necklace, and there’s a belt-clip option for men.
  • Optional wall- or surface-mounted help buttons that you can place in the bathroom, near a nightstand, in the basement or in other areas where falls are common.
  • Jewelry-style pendants are a newer option available through several providers. They tend to have a shorter transmission range and battery life, but they’re remarkably discreet.
  • Most mobile monitoring devices resemble a small flip phone or pager. These systems can be carried in your pocket, clipped on your waistband or stored in a purse.

Factor in Audio Quality When Selecting Equipment

Audio quality is a make-or-break feature. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to gauge the system’s volume until you have the unit in your house. Sound levels for most in-home systems range from 60 to 80 decibels, which can affect your ability to communicate with operators, especially from a distance. If you have hearing concerns, it’s important to select a provider that offers a 30-day money-back guarantee in case the system doesn’t meet your needs.

Investigate Battery Life

Battery life is another important consideration that can influence your choice of system and devices. Here are some factors to consider:

  • In-home base units plug into a standard electrical outlet and are equipped with emergency battery packs. If you live in an area that’s prone to power outages or severe weather, select a model that provides at least 30 hours of backup power.
  • Traditional push-button pendants and wristbands use stable lithium-ion batteries that may last up to 7 years depending on the model. Some providers even measure battery levels during self-tests and send replacements as needed.
  • Mobile devices with advanced features, such as two-way voice communication and GPS tracking, may need recharging every few days or weeks depending on the system’s design and features.

To help you compare the available options, you should also ask yourself how often you want to recharge your device. Do you prefer simple features if they extend the battery life, or are you comfortable recharging the device often so that you’re protected when you’re driving, traveling and running errands?

Think About Service Plans

Medical alert companies typically sell their monitoring service for a fixed monthly rate and provide customers with equipment to use during that time. Most providers offer basic packages for one price and à la carte upgrades at an additional cost. For example, with an in-home system, you’ll receive a base unit and a wristband or neck pendant. If you want extra pendants or help buttons, you’ll typically pay $3-$5 extra per button, per month. Understanding what you get with a plan and the extras you need makes it easier to compare offerings and prices from different companies.

Basic plans generally include:

  • Cellular service for in-home or mobile systems
  • One base unit for in-home plans
  • The first pendant or wristband

With most providers, you pay extra for:

  • Landline phone service
  • Equipment that’s lost or damaged
  • Additional help buttons or pendants

Compare Fee Structures and Pricing Plans

In the past, some companies locked customers into ironclad three-year contracts that could only be canceled in extreme situations, such as nursing home placement. Mercifully, the industry has moved away from this model. Most top-rated providers offer month-to-month service agreements that you can cancel at any time, and there are no penalties as long as you return the equipment.

If you sign up for quarterly or annual billing, many companies give you a discount and extra benefits, such as free device protection or a lockbox for emergency responders. Just make sure that the company offers prorated refunds in case you decide to cancel. With so many providers competing for your business, there’s really no need to go with a company that has hefty activation fees or cancellation penalties.

Did You Know? Seniors can receive free quotes for personal safety monitoring, medical alerts and wander prevention services for those with Alzheimer’s. Receive a quote here.

Decide on Extra Features and Add-Ons

Standard service plans include 24/7 monitoring and basic equipment, but companies offer numerous upgrades. Here are a few of the most popular value-added features to look for:

  • GPS tracking allows emergency operators to pinpoint the subscriber’s exact location in case of an emergency. This feature is ideal for seniors with Alzheimer’s or wandering concerns.
  • Fall-detection functions use accelerometers and algorithms to detect unusual movements. This enhanced feature costs $5-$10 per month. Technology is improving, but it still has limitations.
  • Caregiver dashboards that display activity and tracking information are ideal for tech-savvy relatives who want a convenient, unobtrusive way to check on loved ones.
  • Medical alert systems can also be used as a daily wellness tool. For a nominal fee, many providers offer medication reminders and daily check-in functions.
  • As technology improves, more providers are developing mobile emergency response apps and voice-activation tools that can interact with Alexa and home automation devices.

Define Your Emergency Response Needs

Medical alert systems and other PERS are designed to get you help when you need it while preventing false alarms the rest of the time. If you activate the help button, a specially trained operator will answer your call in a matter of seconds. Communication is handled through the base unit, but you can also choose a pendant with two-way voice capabilities.

If you’re unable to communicate with the dispatcher due to medical reasons or the location within your home, the operator will contact emergency responders and treat the situation as a genuine emergency.

Nearly all companies allow subscribers to create a customized plan that instructs operators to contact a friend, relative or neighbor before calling 911. In many cases, it’s much more convenient and appropriate to contact a neighbor or relative rather than police or emergency medical services.

Companies are also moving toward passive monitoring systems that use smart technology to detect unusual movement patterns and trigger automatic wellness calls. If these are the features you want, it may narrow down your choice of systems and providers.

Weigh Provider Credentials

To help you determine if a medical alert company provides timely, reliable service that will meet your needs, be sure to check these four credentials:

  • Average response times: Ideally, the company should answer emergency calls in one minute or less. You also want to find a provider that offers consistent service around the clock.
  • Qualifications: Industry certifications can help you evaluate a provider’s commitment to quality service. TMA’s Five Diamond certification is one of the most rigorous. Underwriters Laboratories, Factory Mutual and the Electronic Security Association also offer third-party quality assurances.
  • Monitoring centers: Look for providers that have at least two onshore facilities. The best providers invest in operator training programs and often employ a nurse, EMT or medical supervisor who can assist during high-priority calls.
  • Language: For most consumers, U.S.-based operators are ideal. However, if English isn’t your first language, look for providers that employ bilingual agents or offer third-party interpretation services. Some companies support more than 200 languages.

Match a Medical Alert System to Your Particular Needs

Medical monitoring is a unique industry. The products are very similar, yet one small feature can determine whether or not the system can work for you. As you start the comparison process, identify your main requirements and any special features that you may need. Decide whether you want landline or cellular service. If you want mobile coverage, find out whether AT&T or Verizon works best in your area. Next, determine what features are important to you. Do you care about long battery life, or would you prefer a pendant that looks like an artisan necklace? As you consider the product’s features and functionality, one or two clear contenders will emerge. You can also learn more about each provider by checking online reviews to see how the system worked for customers in a similar situation.

If you’ve considered medical alert systems in the past but were overwhelmed by the number of options and underwhelmed by the lack of convenient features, the technology has improved. It’s less intrusive and more user-friendly. Consumers today have more options than ever, and we hope that this guide helps you find the right one for your lifestyle.

A Full Explanation of Our Ranking Methodology

We ranked the top 22 medical alert companies on the market today on factors including price, availability of premium features, and company history and reputation. In total, we evaluated five main categories (metrics) and 30 subcategories (sub-metrics). Metrics and sub metrics were weighted in proportion to how much of an impact that specific metric has on customers’ experience and bottom line. A full explanation of the metrics and sub-metrics involved in our data-driven analysis can be found below.

Extra Costs

We considered any costs users may face outside of their standard monthly monitoring fees. This includes startup fees such as activation and installation, as well as cancellation fees, shipping fees, and additional costs for common extra features. While these extra costs can add up with some companies, this metric accounts for just 10% of our rankings because they are typically one-time expenses and thus do not have as much of an impact on a user’s expenses overall. The sub-metrics are as follows:

  • Device/Equipment Fee: Does the company charge a one-time fee to lease or purchase the medical alert device itself, and if so, how much?
  • Activation/Installation Fee: Does the company charge a mandatory one-time fee to activate or install the device, and if so, how much?
  • Shipping Fee: How much must most customers pay for shipping (excluding sales, specials, discounts for longer payment periods, etc.)?
  • Fall Detection: How much extra per month does the company charge for automatic fall detection?
  • Cancellation Fees: Does the company charge cancellation fees when users choose to end their service? We measured this sub-metric in terms of “yes” or “no.”
  • Prorated Refunds: Do customers who choose to end their service before their subscription period has run out (i.e., six months into an annual payment) receive a prorated refund for unused months? We measured this sub-metric in terms of “yes” or “no.”

In-Home Systems

This metric evaluated a company’s in-home systems based on both cost and features. Because one’s monthly monitoring payments make up the majority of total medical alert costs, this metric was weighted at 25%. The sub-metrics are as follows:

  • Monthly Cost: How much do customers have to pay each month for standard emergency monitoring services? We always used the regular monthly price- not the annual or semi-annual prices, which are often discounted. If a company offers more than one in-home device, we chose the least expensive option.
  • Available Discounts: Does the company offer any discounts on the monthly monitoring fee for quarterly, semi-annual, or annual subscribers? We measured this sub-metric in terms of “yes” or “no.”
  • Extra Fee for Cellular In-Home: How much extra does it cost per month to use this system with a cellular connection rather than a landline?
  • Range: How far can users travel from their base station and still be protected by their medical alert system?
  • Showerproof: Can users wear their device in the shower, where falls are common? We measured this sub-metric in terms of “yes” or “no.”

Mobile Systems

Similar to the in-home systems category, the mobile systems ranking category focused on the devices’ monthly cost and features. Because the monthly monitoring cost and features available with one’s device have a major impact on customer experience, this metric was weighted at 25%. The sub-metrics are as follows:

  • Monthly Cost: How much do customers have to pay each month for standard emergency monitoring service? Again, if a company offers more than one device at different costs, we chose the least expensive option.
  • Available Discounts: Does the company offer any discounts on the monthly monitoring fee for quarterly, semi-annual, or annual subscribers? We measured this sub-metric in terms of “yes” or “no.”
  • Battery Life: How long does the device’s battery last in between charges?
  • Water-Resistant? Can users wear their device in the rain, and is it okay if it gets splashed? We measured this sub-metric in terms of “yes” or “no.”

Availability of Add-Ons

Add-on devices and features are an important element in determining a customer’s satisfaction. Even those who are only interested in basic add-on devices, such as a lockbox or wall-mounted button, will benefit from a company that offers these devices along with medical alert systems all in one shop. For those who need specific add-on features like medication reminders, the decision of which medical alert company to choose may rely solely on whether the company offers the needed service.

Because of the influence the availability of add-ons can have on a customer’s decision, this category is weighted at 20%. The goal of this ranking category was to evaluate the availability of these devices and features rather than their costs, and thus was measured using a yes/no system. The add-ons that we included in this ranking category (the sub-metrics) are as follows:

  • Fall detection
  • Lockbox
  • Wall buttons
  • Device protection plan
  • Caregiver portal/app
  • Location Information On-Demand (location tracking for caregivers)
  • Medication Reminders
  • Activity Tracking

Reliability and Reputation

Factors like cost, device battery life, and availability of desired add-on features are all tangible things that certainly impact a customer’s satisfaction with their medical alert company. But, other intangibles also can have a great impact on a user’s experience. In our Reliability and Reputation metric, we examined those intangibles that impact customer satisfaction and safety. Because of this impact, Reliability and Reputation was weighted at 20% of a company’s total score. The elements we chose to evaluate, our sub-metrics, are as follows:

  • BBB Rating: What is the company’s Better Business Bureau rating?
  • Monitoring Center Certified by 3rd Party: Does the company’s monitoring center(s) have certifications and ratings from third-party safety organizations? We measured this sub-metric on a yes/no basis.
  • Free Trial Period: Does the company offer new users a free trial period and, if so, how long is the trial?
  • Average Response Time: How long does it take, on average, for a user to speak with an emergency operator after pressing their medical alert emergency button?
  • Transparency/Ease of Finding Information on Website: Is the company’s website informative and user-friendly? Are prices, extra costs, and policies clearly explained on the website? Is it easy to find the information most important to customers? This sub-metric was measured on a scale from 1-10, with 10 being the most transparent and informative website.
  • Years in Business: For how many years has the company provided medical alert systems and services?
  • BBB Review Score: What is the company’s average score from consumer reviews on the Better Business Bureau website?

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Medical Alert Systems Expensive?

Medical alert systems typically cost between $20 to $45 per month or about $1 per day. Basic in-home systems with one pendant and a push-button base unit are the most affordable option. Mobile systems that include GPS tracking cost more, but their advanced capabilities can benefit active seniors, travelers and adults who are at risk of wandering. With fall detection and other add-ons, monthly costs can climb as high as $90. However, seniors may be able to save by signing up for annual or semiannual billing, and affinity discounts may be available to members of national organizations, such as AAA and USAA.

Will My Insurance Pay for a Medical Alert System?

Despite the proven benefits, most health insurance plans don’t cover the cost of personal emergency response systems. If you’re aged 65 or older, basic Medicare (Part A and Part B) doesn’t cover the cost of medical alert systems, but some Part C Medicare Advantage Plans do provide this value-added benefit. Coverage is sometimes available to homebound individuals who receive in-home care or self-directed services through Medicaid if the device helps them live in the community safely.

Do I Need to Purchase Special Equipment?

Usually, no. The majority of medical alert companies include the cost of equipment in their monthly monitoring fees. In other words, there’s usually no upfront charge for the device, but you may have to pay if the equipment is lost or damaged or if you fail to return it after you cancel your plan. If you’re purchasing equipment upfront, determine whether it’s self-monitored or tied to a certain provider.

How Long Do the Batteries Last?

Batteries in medical alert systems last anywhere from 24 hours to 7 years depending on the technology and design. GPS-enabled systems with two-way voice communication have the shortest battery life, especially when connecting to remote cell towers in rural locations. Most in-home base units remain active for up to three days without power. Lithium-ion batteries used in pendants and push buttons generally last for several years.

What Type of Phone Service Do I Need?

Nearly every medical alert company offers multiple service options. If you have a landline, the system uses your existing service. All you need is a phone jack. Landline systems are generally compatible with VoIP technology, but it’s important to remember that this system isn’t as reliable in case of Internet malfunctions or power outages.

Mobile devices come with their own SIM card, and you don’t have to purchase cell service since it’s already included in the monthly monitoring fee. There’s one drawback, however. Most cellular systems use AT&T’s nationwide network, which has coverage gaps in Nevada, Nebraska and Montana. If you don’t have AT&T, a Verizon-based service like GreatCall may give you an alternative.

Do I Need to Hire an Installer, or can I Set up the System Myself?

Medical alert systems are easy to use and install. In most cases, it takes five minutes or less. Installation is as simple as plugging in a phone jack, connecting the power supply and turning on the unit. If you need assistance, many companies can walk you through the process over the phone. You may also want to work with a tech-savvy relative who can take advantage of online monitoring tools.


Compare More Medical Alert Systems

For more information, read about our reviews of additional companies not included in this guide in head-to-head company comparisons to see how each stacks up against the competition:

Other Medical Alert Systems We’ve Reviewed

More About Medical Alert Systems

Making the Hard Decision to Move Forward

It may not come as a surprise to many of you that making new changes in your life can be difficult. And it is the natural human tendency to procrastinate even when we know that taking that first step will lead to better outcomes. Indecision can be costly, physically, financially, and mentally. This new environment in which we suddenly find ourselves is a testament to the need to make fast and drastic changes as our very lives depend on it.  And we have to manage this unfamiliar ever-changing changing COVID environment for some time to come. And for those of you who are immunocompromised, they may be even higher. 

Now, let’s take a look at another life and death struggle that we are in every day that takes up much of our time, energy, and leaves us stressed. The fear of financial ruin. What I have found is that even in the best of times, we don’t want to recognize our financial weaknesses, no matter how they have come about. And there is something to be said about being careful with that information. Now with the national and global financial volatility we find ourselves in with no foreseeable bottom or end in sight, not speaking to someone about your financial concerns and addressing them can leave you in a more desperate financial situation than you may already find yourselves in.  

 

I find it challenging to help anyone who has questions they want to ask but don’t know how when they should ask, or even know what questions to ask. Let me reassure you, I am available to help you navigate your financial lives. I am an advocate for you, not the hospital, not the treatment center, not your doctor, but for you. I endeavor to help prevent and or reduce financial stress/toxicity which is the predominant concern when dealing with a chronic illness. If you feel that paying for your medications, or medical treatment bills is putting a strain on your finances, please call me. Even if you feel everything is manageable now but may become difficult in the future, call me. Don’t wait until the bottom falls out to seek help. You may have had your treatment changed as a result of not being able to go into the doctor’s office for treatment. (intravenous vs oral meds). Is this new treatment going to cost you more?  

Now that some people are beginning to be more open to seeing their doctors, a sad reality is showing itself. Some of these people who put off important follow-up visits, tests, or initial visits due to COVID exposure fears or increased costs-share burden, are finding themselves in more dire physical condition. Perhaps other illnesses have worsened or a new illness in a more advanced stage.  

Let’s not become a statistic. Having a conversation with a financial professional can reassure you that you are on the right track or reveal weaknesses in your financial armor that can be addressed. Getting in front of your healthcare expenses, being proactive in your insurance plans, and making sure your financial goals are secure is one of the most important steps to not only meeting your household financial obligations but your healthcare objectives as well.  

How Cancer Patients Can Protect Themselves Against COVID-19 Variants

The arrival of several COVID-19 vaccines is giving the people of the world hope that we can eventually move past this deadly pandemic. However, while the future is promising, we are not out of the woods quite yet. As the primary virus is seeing a decline, many COVID variants are still spreading, and while doctors are still trying to understand these strains, caution is still required.

Cancer patients need to be extra vigilant during this time as the virus is dangerous for those with existing comorbidities. This fact doesn’t mean that you have to hide from society, but you do need to show caution as you go about your days during these still-dangerous times. To assist, we have compiled some information about situations that could increase the risk of contracting a COVID variant and how you can avoid exposure.

The Current COVID-19 Situation

While we are starting to see an end to the COVID-19 pandemic, we still have a ways to go, especially with several variants making their way around the world. Researchers are still learning about the severity of these variants, but in many cases, they are more transmissible, quicker to spread, and potentially undeterred by current vaccines. When it comes to the risks of COVID with cancer, it is not completely about the disease itself but about the weakened immune system that cancer creates.

Luckily, cancer patients can get the vaccine as long as components of that vaccine are not contraindicated or the patient doesn’t have specific allergies. The only real concern is that with a weakened immune system, the vaccines may be less effective, but it is better than no vaccine at all. It is also a smart idea for caregivers to get the vaccine so they can’t get the virus themselves and transmit it to the patient.

If cancer patients leave the house, they must follow the general safety guidelines that have been recommended throughout the duration of the coronavirus, including wearing masks when in public and staying socially distanced. It is also imperative to wash your hands often for 20 seconds or more at a time. Finally, clean and sanitize the surfaces in your home to avoid excess germs.

Clean Air is Key

Although it has been around for over a year, scientists are still trying to understand the true nature of COVID-19, including how it is transmitted and what factors make it as deadly as it has proven to be. During this research, experts have found a connection between the virus and hazardous air pollutants, and when the two combine, there is a noticeable 9% increase in the death rate. The issue is that particles in bad air can carry the disease, making it easier for people to breathe them in.

There are many signs that you may have poor air quality, including a build-up of dust in vents and corners, unpleasant odors, and an increased humidity around the home that has no explanation. A couple of the most common culprits of bad air quality are mold or asbestos. In both cases, you can have professionals come out to test and determine if they pose a danger, which is a smart idea as both harmful substances are often found in the walls where they can’t be seen. You can also bring in professionals to clean out the mold.

Asbestos is a chemical that was once incorporated into common building materials such as roofing and bathroom tiles. It is incredibly dangerous because once it is inhaled and makes contact with the lungs, prolonged exposure can lead to serious issues, including mesothelioma. If you live in an older home build before the 1980s, have it inspected, and if found, vacate immediately until proper renovations take place.

Needless to say, as a cancer patient, you must be aware of the dangers and make a concentrated effort to maintain clean air within the home. You can do this by placing air purifiers around the house and enforcing proper ventilation with open windows and exhaust fans in the bathrooms.

Avoid Excess Stress

There is no doubt that this is a troubling time in your life. Coming to terms with sickness, managing your medications, and dealing with your family all at once can be especially complicated, but as much as you can, it is important to try and stay as calm as possible and avoid excess stress during this time. The reason is that researchers are beginning to see a link between chronic stress and the severity of COVID-19.

When we get stressed, our bodies develop an increased level of the hormone cortisol. When someone is under a constant state of anxiety, the cortisol levels can remain high and lead to physical ailments, including rapid weight gain, bruising of the skin, and even diabetes. These conditions can affect your immune system and make you vulnerable to COVID-19 and other dangerous conditions and diseases.

While it may be easier said than done, stress management is essential during this challenging moment in your life. You can mitigate your stress by communicating with those you love and taking time to do activities you enjoy to keep your mind off of things. Also, focus on a healthy diet and get exercise when you can, as doing so will boost your mood and keep you busy.

It is also important to be careful of the supplements you take for stress relief and ensure that they don’t conflict with your cancer medications. For instance, many people take medications like Zantac to fight the gastrointestinal issues that can come from stress. However, Zantac has been found to create N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) in the body, which is a dangerous carcinogen that has been known to lead to other forms of cancer. It is a smart idea to speak to your primary oncologist before trying other medications.

As someone on the journey of overcoming cancer, it is especially important to protect yourself against the dangers of COVID-19. By being aware of the risks and making smart decisions, you will get through this and see the light at the end of the tunnel.

#patientchat Highlights – Are You an Empowered Survivor?

Last week we hosted a “Are You an Empowered Survivor?” #patientchat with Alicia Staley (@stales). The #patientchat community came together on Twitter for a lively discussion. Take a look at the top tweets and full transcript from the chat.

Top Tweets

Use What Resonates with You


Some Language Reinforces the Idea That Patients Have More Control Than They Do


What does resiliency regarding your mental and emotional health look like to you? 


Full Transcript

Interview with NORD’s Rebecca Aune

Leading up to the Living Rare, Living Stronger NORD Patient and Family Forum on June 26th – June 27th, we interviewed NORD’s Director of Education Programs, Rebecca Aune.

1. Please tell us about yourself and your work at NORD.

My name is Rebecca Aune, and I am the Director of Education Programs at the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). I lead the Educational Initiatives department, which oversees NORD’s education programs for health care professionals, patients and caregivers, and the Students for Rare network.

2. What specific challenges do you see that affect patients in the rare disease community?

Millions of people living with rare disease are currently on or have lived through a long and arduous diagnostic odyssey to get to an accurate diagnosis and “name the beast.” Identifying a specialist that understands one’s rare condition, research being conducted to better understand it, available treatments and treatment guidelines if there are any, and who will help make appropriate referrals for other care and services can also be challenging and overwhelming.

3. What can be done to overcome these challenges?

Educating patients and caregivers to be their own advocates, to know their rights, and be part of decision-making process alongside their care team can help rare patients overcome these challenges.  Weathering these challenges also requires taking care of both mental and physical health and finding a support system, which are key components to our work at NORD to help those affected by rare disease live their best lives while we fight for better treatments and cures.

Simultaneously, we provide accredited continuing medical education to equip health care professionals and trainees with the information they need to shorten the timeline to diagnosis and improve patient outcomes. Reducing and overcoming these challenges requires a whole-of-community approach.

4. What are some resources available to help patients impacted by a rare disease?

NORD is an umbrella organization with more than 330 member organizations advocating for communities of people living with rare conditions. A newly diagnosed patient may not be aware that there is already an organization working on their behalf alongside NORD, and connecting with others living with one’s rare disease can be a great starting point.

NORD has reliable reports written by experts explaining rare diseases available on our website. Additionally, for many conditions, we have a short video explaining the disease in the NORD Rare Disease Video Library. We also have a host of webinar recordings on a variety of educational topics available on-demand.

The Living Rare, Living Stronger NORD Patient and Family Forum offers a full weekend of opportunities to meet and learn from others living with rare diseases who will discuss a variety of topics, participate in wellness activities, join a discussion group to chat with others, and tune in to the Rare Impact Awards show to celebrate leaders in the rare disease community.

5. What do you wish everyone knew about rare diseases?

While each disease classified as “rare” may affect fewer than 200,000 people in the United States and some diseases are considered “ultrarare,” collectively, rare diseases are not rare! It is estimated that more than 25 million people are living with a rare condition in the United States alone. We all seem to know someone living with a rare cancer, or spina bifida, or multiple sclerosis, or narcolepsy, or restless legs syndrome, or have heard of Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Community support and awareness are critical to the present and future of the rare community.

6. What are you looking forward to the most during the 2021 Living Rare, Living Stronger NORD Patient and Family Forum?

We have a stellar faculty of speakers that came together to discuss relevant issues affecting the rare disease community, including parenting a child with a rare disease; aging with a rare disease; working while living with a rare disease; navigating health insurance, social security disability and patient assistance programs; getting involved in rare disease research, and more. I think the content offers variety and a little something for everyone. As well as education, the Forum offers entertainment beginning with a kickoff concert by Red Grammer on Friday, June 25 and closing with a Broadway performance during the Rare Impact Awards on Monday, June 28.

7. How can people register to attend the Forum, and when is the last day to register?

People can register for Living Rare, Living Stronger NORD Patient and Family Forum featuring the Rare Impact Awards by visiting https://rarediseases.org/living-rare-forum. The kickoff concert is on Friday, June 26, and programming begins on Saturday, June 27. However, if you cannot attend the conference live, you can register and access the content on-demand for an additional 30 days after the forum.

8. What will attendees learn about and experience at the event?

Attendees will be experience general sessions on a variety of topics, including building resilience, the sibling experience, examples of patients partnering with health care professionals in their care, and an opportunity to hear about cutting edge research being conducted in rare disease. Additionally, attendees will be able to select to attend breakout sessions according to their interests. Wellness activities such as a meditation sound bath and chair yoga will be offered, as well as kids’ activities each day provided through Project Sunshine’s TelePlay program. Also, participants can tune in with their family and friends to entertainment opportunities such as the kickoff concert by Red Grammer and the Rare Impact Awards show. The forum is open to interested members of the press as well.

9. Are there opportunities to meet and connect with other rare patients and caregivers?

A variety of live discussion group opportunities will be offered where attendees can go meet others and discuss topics such as getting involved in rare disease advocacy, living undiagnosed, rare despair and bereavement, being the parent of a newly diagnosed pediatric patient, being a teen living with rare disease, and much more. Attendees can meet other members of the rare disease community in one-on-one meetings on the conference web platform. Kids can have fun and meet other kids through Project Sunshine’s TelePlay program, offering virtual activities for kids ages 5-9 on Saturday, June 26 and 10-14 on Sunday, June 27.

10. This Sunday is Father’s Day, are there any key sessions in the Forum you’d like to highlight for our rare community fathers or parents?

In general, there are several topics that I think could be very helpful for an adult living with a rare disease who is a parent – or for parents of a child living with a rare disease – including, but not limited to: Shared Decision-making with Your Care Team, Getting Involved in Clinical Research, Debunking the Myths of Palliative Care, and Finding Your Community and Building Your Support Network.

If the father in the family is the patient, we have a discussion group for Rare Men that may be helpful.

For fathers in families living with a genetic/heritable condition, the breakout “Rare in the Family” may be a helpful resource.

If a father has a child living with a rare disease who has a sibling(s), the plenary session about The Rare Sibling Experience may help to understand some sibling perspectives and considerations.

If a father has a child who is still undiagnosed, there is a discussion group on Saturday, “Living Undiagnosed: The Endless Diagnostic Odyssey.”

Also, these discussion groups will bring parents of a child living with a rare disease together: “Parents of Newly Diagnosed Rare Pediatric Patients” on Saturday and “Parenting Rare Children” on Sunday.

For a bereaved father or father experiencing anticipatory or ambiguous grief, we offer a Breakout session on “Coping with Grief and Anticipatory Grief.” We also will hold a live discussion group on Saturday about “Rare Despair and Bereavement.”

11. How do you see the rare diseases field changing moving forward? What are the next big educational opportunities?

We hope to continually see more and more treatments approved each year, and we hope to see the scientific community find cures for rare diseases. We anticipate much to come in gene therapy and gene editing, and advancement in treatments due to data sharing. NORD will continue to encourage patients to participate in registries, natural history studies, bio banks and clinical trials. As an organization, NORD will continue to move forward with educating patients about their rights and how to manage their health and cope with the stress of living with serious and chronic illnesses.

12. For someone just learning about NORD or a rare disease, what’s the best place to start?

NORD’s Rare Disease Database provides reliable information about rare conditions written by experts. Also, finding your community is important to find specialists, learn about research, and find support. NORD’s Organizational Database is a great place to start. We also are offering a session at Living Rare, Living Stronger called “Finding Your Community and Building Your Support Network.