Seniors who want to retain their independence while enjoying the security that comes with knowing they can always call for help are increasingly turning to monitored medical alert systems. Also known as panic buttons or personal emergency response systems, these devices instantly connect users with a 24/7 call monitoring center staffed by trained emergency operators. These operators can talk with callers through the speakerphone on the medical alert device, and if necessary, dispatch fire, police or an ambulance to the caller’s location.
The demand for medical alert systems has grown, and there are now dozens of medical alert companies to choose from. Selecting the right provider and device can be challenging because many companies use complex marketing language that makes comparing different products and services difficult. To help make the process of choosing a medical alert system easier, we’ve created a series of comparison guides highlighting the costs, features and benefits of the leading providers.
In this guide, we compare MobileHelp and GreatCall, two well-known monitored medical alert system providers. We’ve included a chart highlighting the features of each company, along with an overview of the products and services offered.
|Lowest Monthly Cost||$19.95||$24.99|
|Highest Monthly Cost||$44.95||$39.99|
|Up-Front Equipment Cost||$0||$49.99|
|Connection||Landline or AT&T cellular||Verizon Cellular|
|Automatic Fall Detection||Available||Available|
|GPS Location Tracking||Available||Available|
|Optional Accessories||Wall-mounted help button PIN-protected lockbox Additional wearable panic buttons Bella Charms (for help buttons without fall detection)||None|
Headquartered in Florida, MobileHelp is an established medical alert company that offers a variety of in-home and mobile medical alert systems. MobileHelp’s call response services are delivered through Rapid Response, an industry-leading provider with over 25 years of experience that operates two call centers in Syracuse, N.Y., and Corona, CA. Bilingual operators who speak Spanish and English are available, and the company contracts with a real-time interpreting service to offer call services in more than 200 languages.
MobileHelp offers a range of medical alert systems that are designed to be reliable and user-friendly. The entry-level system, MobileHelp Classic, has a range of up to 1400 feet between the base unit and the waterproof panic buttons, and users can opt to add automatic fall detection and additional wall-mounted buttons to their system. The company also offers the Mobile Duo, a mobile medical alert system with GPS tracking for two users.
- Call response service provided through two U.S.-based multilingual call centers
- Entry-level system starts at $19.95 per month
- Mobile devices work on the AT&T nationwide network
- The Mobile DUO is the only two-user mobile medical alert system on the market
- Fall detection available
- Help buttons are safe to wear in the shower
- Many MobileHelp panic buttons are powered with a long-lasting battery that doesn’t need recharging
- Monitoring costs can increase at any time
- No medical alert smartwatch
- Users need to select an annual plan to access the lowest possible monitoring rates
GreatCall is the cellular phone and medical alert division of Best Buy, the nationwide electronics retailer. The company is behind the Jitterbug lineup of simplified mobile phones marketed to seniors, and its emergency call response service is provided by a U.S.-based call center.
GreatCall offers two medical alert systems, the Lively Mobile Plus and the Lively Wearable2. The Lively Mobile Plus is an all-in-one device equipped with a speakerphone, a GPS transponder and a cellular transponder that comes activated on the Verizon wireless network. This waterproof device is designed to be worn on a lanyard or clipped to a belt, and it is powered by a built-in battery that must be recharged nightly on the included charging cradle.
The Lively Wearable2, a small, smartwatch-style panic button, pairs with a compatible smartphone that has an active data plan that the user provides. This lightweight device can be worn on the wrist or as a pendant and includes optional fall detection.
- The Lively Wearable2 is discrete and user-friendly
- Lively Mobile Plus and Lively Wearable2 support an optional fall detection feature
- The Lively Mobile Plus connects to the nationwide Verizon cellular network
- No need to have a landline phone
- The Lively Wearable2 can be worn like a watch or on a lanyard
- The battery in the Lively Wearable2 is rated to last up to four months
- AARP members may qualify for discounts on annual plans
- GreatCall Lively devices are available online and in select Best Buy retail locations
- The Lively Mobile Plus device needs to be removed and placed on a charging cradle daily
- Automatic fall detection is only included on the costliest plans
- Access to the caregiver app isn’t included on the least expensive plans
- Users require a relatively new smartphone with data to use the Lively Wearable2
- Panic button is significantly larger than many other devices on the market
- Cannot add a second user to the same account
- No optional add-on devices, such as wall-mounted help buttons
Users who are looking for an all-in-one mobile medical alert system might find that the GreatCall Lively Mobile Plus is a good option, particularly if subscribers live in an area with good Verizon wireless coverage. The GreatCall Lively Wearable2 also offers consumers an innovative alternative to traditional medical alert systems, although users need to be sure that they always have their cell phone within range of the panic button.
Unlike GreatCall, MobileHelp has a variety of in-home and mobile medical alert systems, including maintenance-free systems, which may be ideal for older consumers. MobileHelp also offers a number of add-ons, such as a PIN-protected lockbox, waterproof wall-mounted help buttons and extra wearable panic buttons.
Overall, we prefer MobileHelp over GreatCall due to the greater assortment of personal emergency response systems offered by MobileHelp, including devices that never require recharging. We also like the lower monitoring costs for the MobileHelp systems when compared to the costs for GreatCall Lively systems.