COVID-19 Update: Medical Alerts are considered essential devices during the COVID crisis, so monitoring and customer service centers are still open and ready to help. To learn more about how these and other essential products can keep older adults safe and connected during this crisis, take a look at our list of 10 essential products.
Traditional medical alert systems use either a pendant or wrist-worn help button to connect subscribers with a 24/7 emergency call center. These systems are time-tested and proven to reduce response times in an emergency, help seniors remain independent and encourage favorable outcomes following a fall or medical event; however, some seniors are reluctant to wear a medical device.
Thankfully, medical alert companies have recognized the need for nontraditional medical devices that are easy to wear and discreet. Today, a number of medical alert providers offer smartwatches, which combine all the features and benefits of an ordinary emergency call system with cutting-edge technology.
How Smartwatch Medical Alert Devices Are Different From Traditional Help Buttons
Medical alert smartwatches are specialized, high-tech wearable devices that combine many of the features offered in regular smartwatches with the protection of a wireless emergency call button. In fact, many medical alert smartwatches are made by the same companies that produce the most popular brands of smartwatches, such as LG and Samsung.
What sets smartwatch medical alert systems apart from traditional wireless help buttons is the design of the device itself. While most other medical alert wearables have a single function, medical alert smartwatches have a number of features that can include activity tracking, heart rate testing, SMS (text) messaging, GPS navigation and, of course, timekeeping.
To help you decide if a smartwatch medical alert system is the right choice for you or your loved ones, we’ve researched the best smartwatch systems. Our team of senior care experts identified the 3 best smartwatch systems based on the quality of the monitoring services, user-friendly features and overall customer satisfaction.
The 3 Best Smartwatch Medical Alert Systems
MobileHelp is known for its wide variety of user-friendly medical alert devices and systems backed by its U.S-based emergency call center. The company has always been a leader when it comes to cutting-edge technologies, so it’s no surprise that MobileHelp now offers one of the best smartwatch medical alert systems.
The MobileHelp Smart is a customized Samsung smartwatch that has been specifically designed to meet the needs of medical alert subscribers. It looks and feels like a regular smartwatch with a black watch band and black bezel. It’s not until you look at the apps that you can spot the difference between this device and mainstream smartwatches.
This medical smartwatch comes with a built-in interface that features a large, easy-to-see help button that users can activate to contact MobileHelp’s 24/7 emergency call center. There’s also an integrated speaker and microphone to enable two-way conversations right through the watch itself, eliminating the need for an additional speaker unit. Included is a test button that users can activate to verify their watch is working properly, and the watch comes preloaded with Samsung health apps that can monitor heart rate and activity levels.
There’s also a built-in weather app, and the integrated GPS location tracking feature means that first responders can quickly locate the user in case of an emergency. The watch is connected to the AT&T 4G cellular network to provide coverage in most locations nationwide. The built-in battery lasts up to 2 days, and a wireless charging cradle is included. As with most medical smartwatches, users need to pay for the device upfront, and the current price is $349.95.
Headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Medical Guardian is a family-run medical alert company focused on providing excellent customer service combined with innovative, senior-friendly devices. Their Freedom Guardian device is a smartwatch medical alert system that has a large touch screen, advanced GPS location tracking, integrated text-to-speech messaging and even a three-day weather forecasting app. The current time is clearly displayed on an analog watch face, and the device is available in black or white.
Freedom Guardian includes an installed SIM chip that connects to AT&T cellular networks to provide coverage throughout the United States, and the monthly service fee covers the companion mobile app. This app lets trusted family members and friends send and receive text messages to the subscriber, monitor the subscribers’ location and set medication and appointment reminders.
Subscribers need to pay a one-time equipment fee of $99 and choose a monthly, quarterly, semiannual or annual service plan ranging in cost from $1.35 to $1.45 per day.
GreatCall is a California-based technology company that sells a wide range of communication devices and systems designed specifically for seniors. Its lineup includes the senior-friendly Jitterbug cell phones as well as a number of medical alert buttons, including the Lively Wearable, an innovative device that transforms smartphones into medical alert devices.
Although it’s not technically a smartwatch, we’ve included the GreatCall Lively Wearable on our list of the three best smartwatch medical alert systems because it’s a discreet, wrist-wearable help button that works in much the same way as other medical smartwatches. The Lively Wearable is synced to a smartphone that’s equipped with Android 4.4 or iOS 8.0 or higher and combined with GreatCall’s own medical alert monitoring app.
To call for help, subscribers simply need to press the button on their waterproof Lively Wearable when within Bluetooth range of their connected smartphone, which is usually about 150 feet. An emergency operator answers the call, and the microphone and speaker on the smartphone are automatically activated to enable hands-free communication. The Lively Wearable app also includes fitness tracking, and subscribers can share information with loved ones through the GreatCall Link app, which sends real-time notifications if a user calls for help.
GreatCall Lively has a non-rechargeable battery for maintenance-free use, and subscribers can remove the watch straps and install a lanyard to use the device as a medical alert pendant. The device costs $49.99 and needs to be linked to a monitoring plan that costs $14.99 per month plus activation fees.
Why a Smartwatch Medical Alert Device May Be Right for You or Your Loved One
While many seniors are happy with either a neck-worn medical alert pendant or a help button that’s worn on the wrist, these devices do have an unmistakable look and feel that’s less than appealing for some people.
Smartwatches are perfect for anyone who has avoided purchasing a medical alert system simply because they don’t like traditional help button devices or is interested in a high-tech watch that includes added protection for medical alert monitoring. It’s important to note that users do need to have the ability to navigate the smartwatch apps and charge their device every day or two, which may be impractical for some seniors.
How to Choose the Best Smartwatch Medical Alert System
With an ever-growing number of medical alert companies and smartwatch manufacturers offering medical alert smartwatches, it’s important to carefully consider all of your options before choosing the device that’s right for you.
Start by assessing the cellular signal strength in the area where you plan on using the medical alert watch, since all of these devices rely on existing cellular networks. Consider whether you’d like a bare-bones device that can only be used to call for help, or if you want additional options and features, such as fitness tracking, GPS locating and text messaging. Once you’ve narrowed down your options and features, take a look at our picks for the 3 best smartwatch medical alert systems to find one that’s right for you.