Most Important Things to Know About Medical Alert Systems

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Updated: January 10, 2018


medical alert advice from professionals

Learn about your medical alert system as it could be a life or death situation

Selecting a medical alert system for a loved one is a very important responsibility.  If this is your first time selecting such a system, you may be wondering how to narrow your options.  If so, you should know the main information you need to make a decision falls into five major categories.

1)      Call Center or Central Monitoring Station– Find out if the medical alert company you are researching has their own monitoring center, or outsources this to an outside party.  If they outsource, it’s important they are doing checks to maintain the quality of care your loved one will receive.  Next, ask what outside rating agencies certify the central monitoring station’s operations.  The most popular include UL and FM and companies that go above and beyond are also CSAA 5-Diamond Certified.

Why not call 911 directly?  Research has found that due to the concern of overuse of 911, it is typically better for the calls to go through a center, where it can be quickly determined if the first point of contact should be emergency services, or family and friends. You can read more about 911 history to learn all about the pros and cons of calling.  Finally, ask if the company’s standard practice is to keep one operator on line with your relative, while a second operator makes other calls, as this is the ideal scenario.

2)      Contract Details– Unfortunately, medical alert system services are not something you will need indefinitely, and the last thing you want when dealing with a death of a loved one is additional stress.  Be sure the company you sign with does not have a minimum contract length, and will allow you to cancel their service at any time.

3)      Cost– You can expect to pay $25 to $30 per month for a respectable medical alert service.  Ask your potential providers if there will be any additional costs, such as fees for shipping, installation, or renting the alert console.

4)      Customer Service– Inquire regarding the hours of customer service and technical support, as it is ideal if both are 24/7 operations.  It is also a good idea to check with the Better Business Bureau to see what other clients have had to say about the company and how they handled resolving customer issues.

5)      Reliability– Finally, you will want to inquire about the reliability of the medical alert equipment.  Make sure that it is certified for safety by Underwriters Laboratories (UL), which sets standards for safety and reliability that are recognized worldwide.  Related to this, be sure to check on how frequently the battery in the help button your loved one will wear needs to be replaced, and how it will use to alert the wearer that it is running low on power.