6 Things to Look For when Choosing a Medical Alert System
July 1, 2013 | Topic(s) : Bay Alarm Medical, Caring for Parents, Elderly Caregiving Support, Elderly Services, Family Caregivers, Home Medical Alert Services, Independent Senior Living, Medical Alert, Medical Alert Equipment, Senior Health Services, Senior Home Safety, Senior Safety, Uncategorized
If you’re reading this article, more than likely you’re probably looking into getting a medical alert for yourself, a friend or a loved one.
You’ve probably visited countless websites, seen many different types of equipment, compared pages upon pages of different pricing options, and scrolled through more photos of seniors then you’d like to.
Trust us, we know the feeling. Whether it’s with us or another company, hopefully, this article will be your final destination before you make a decision.
Here’s a breakdown of what we’ll be covering:
1. So what’s going on?
2. Compatibility & Availability
3. Monitoring Station
4. Pricing and Contracts
6. Experience & Customer Service
Let’s get started!
When it comes to helping our customers choose a standard 24/7 medical alert system (aka: personal emergency response system, life alert, medical alarm, help/panic buttons), we start off by asking one very basic question:
1. So what’s going on?
It’s such a simple concept. See, our goal is to try and custom-tailor solutions for each and every one of our clients. Everybody’s situation is different. Things we look for include how big the individual’s living area is, type of disability, or whether or not they’ve already suffered through a fall, heart attack, stroke, etc.
With that said, most of our clients are seniors between the ages of 65 – 95. Many are retired and still live a very active lifestyle. They simply want added insurance and peace of mind just in case they have a slip in the bathroom or around the stairs.
2. Compatibility & Availability
The next step is to find out if a medical alert system will work within your home. For the most part, any home with a standard land-line, digital cable, or any type of bundled Cable TV/Phone/Internet service will be compatible with our system. Most companies should also have service availability anywhere in the United States.
3. Monitoring Station
The monitoring station is the backbone of any medical alert provider. Here are 3 things to look for.
Certification: Does the monitoring station have the minimum certifications in order to operate?
Why is this important: A true 24/7 monitoring station undergoes a rigorous certification process every year. These tests are conducted at random times and are very hard to pass. Not only that, a true 24/7 monitoring center needs to invest heavily in equipment, training and personnel to even qualify for certification. It’s the only way we can ensure that our customers get the absolute best in reliability and rapid response times.
Plug: (Hey it’s our blog =) Bay Alarm Medical’s 24/7 monitoring centers are CSAA Five Diamond Certified and undergo a rigorous certification process annually, commit to tough quality standards, and agree to random inspections by UL, a nationally recognized testing laboratory.
Dedicated: Does the call center ONLY take medical alert calls? Do they also take sales, technical and other response calls unrelated to medical?
Why is this important: It’s quite simple. A dedicated medical alert call center only handles one thing – medical alert calls. Did you know that Bay Alarm Medical is owned by a burglar alarm company? Most people don’t and it’s because we keep both businesses completely separate.
Plug: Bay Alarm Medical employs 2 dedicated call stations solely focused on 24/7 medical alert monitoring. Our parent company, Bay Alarm, has an entire separate division dedicated to residential and commercial property protection.
Monitored in the USA: Where’s the call center located? Are my calls being responded to in the USA?
Why is this important: To save money, a lot of companies outsource their call centers to countries outside of the United States. Since cost of labor is cheaper overseas, it makes sense from a financial standpoint. However when it comes to 24-hour monitoring, we believe it’s best to keep our call centers domestic. Calls are responded to much more rapidly, operators have ALL local contacts to emergency services and the calls are generally of higher quality.
Plug: Bay Alarm Medical works closely with our USA-based monitoring partner to create a network of highly reliable emergency response centers. Located in Ogden Utah and Tacoma Washington, the two state-of-the-art centers are full duplicates of each other. If one station were to ever go offline, the other station would provide immediate emergency coverage.
4. Pricing & Contracts
Price is always an important factor when making any kind of buying decisions. Bay Alarm Medical is known for their competitive pricing. Read this blog article to see how we’re able to pass on our savings to our customers.
Another thing to look for are introductory rates. It’s a strategy that the big TV and Internet companies have used for the longest time. Some medical alert providers are starting to use it as well.
Plug: When you sign up with Bay Alarm Medical, the rates will never change and will stay the same for the life of the service.
Most medical alert providers charge a monthly subscription fee for service. As mentioned earlier, everyone’s situation is a little different and because of that, Bay Alarm Medical offers 3 different payment options.
It’s basically a balance between price and flexibility.
You can pay monthly (monthly plan), pay once every 3 months (quarterly plan) and get a small discount, or take advantage of a bigger discount by prepaying for an entire year (annual plan). The ideal payment plan depends on your unique situation so make sure to talk it over with family, friends, or one of our care consultants before making a decision.
If you own a cell phone, (and most of you probably do) you’ll agree with me that contracts are a pain in the butt. Not only are you obligated to pay for a certain amount years, if you no longer need it, you’re charged a huge cancellation fee.
We’re not in the business of charging cancellation fees and it’s another reason why we offer 3 different payment options. When choosing a medical alert provider, make sure that you look into their contract policies before making a decision.
I’ll keep this part short because believe it or not, the equipment is usually a bit overrated. Medical alert systems have been around for quite some time now and the technology behind it have pretty much stayed the same. Because of that (and I hope I don’t get in trouble for this) most medical alert providers usually have pretty good and reliable hardware. There are, however, a couple of different variations.
Standard-Style Medical Alert
These are the most common types of hardware and used by most medical alert providers including Bay Alarm Medical. The system is comprised of a base station and a remote pendant. When you push the pendant, it activates the speakerphone (inside the base station) and will initiate 2-way communication with the call center.
The main advantage of a walkie-talkie styled system is that it houses a microphone inside the pendant thereby enabling the user to speak into the pendant. The problem with these kinds of systems is that the pendants are significantly larger, requires the user to routinely re-charge the device, and because there are electronics inside the pendant, they aren’t 100% waterproof. The system also requires the user to use a tiny screwdriver to change out the battery. Probably not very user-friendly with the elderly.
We use the standard-style medical alert system simply because it’s super user-friendly, reliable and requires zero maintenance. The pendants have a battery life of 5 years and the base station has a backup battery of 32 hours. Furthermore, they’re 100% waterproof (so you can wear them in the shower) and depending on the setup of your living area, you can expect an operating range between 400ft to 1000ft.
6. Experience and Customer Service
Above all else, experience and customer service plays the biggest role when it comes to choosing the right provider.
If you’re just starting your search, it’s hard to know which service provides the best customer service and support. Sales reps are always kind and friendly during the ordering process but if you ever have a technical question after purchasing, a lot of companies may try to rush you off the phone.
We invite you to check out our medical alert reviews page to help narrow your search. These reviews are unbiased, unfiltered, and unedited. Outside 3rd party resources can be great tools when doing your research. However, make sure to look out for companies with a lot of bad reviews AS WELL as too many good ones. After all, no company is perfect (not even us).
Updated December 27, 2013