- In-home and mobile devices
- Smartphone app
- Medication dispenser
- Professional installation
- High activation fees
In 1972, Dr Andrew Dibner came up with a novel idea involving a wireless emergency alarm system. Little did he know that this invention would become a pillar for seniors and recovering patients that valued their independence. The technology was constantly refined and eventually gave birth to the Lifeline System that became public in 1983. Fast forward to 2006 when the company was bought by Philips, leading to the Philips Lifeline medical alert service that we know today.
Despite becoming a major force in the industry, Philips Lifeline hasn’t forgotten its roots. They still have strong ties with hospitals, with mutually beneficial partnerships where hospitalized patients can rent the system for a small amount or subscribe to the service through an organization. Philips Lifeline has won several awards over the years and continued to upgrade its technology. Currently the company offers both in-home and mobile devices, coupled with a stellar monitoring service and an advanced medication dispenser.
Philips Lifeline offers a reliable monitoring service through its centralized response centers, where the care agents are available every day of the year. The company offers help in the U.S. and Canada with local headquarters that are UL certified. If the caller doesn’t speak native English, the staff contacts a third party translation agency who offers assistance in 140 languages.
Whenever a help button is pushed, it takes an average of 22 seconds to get in touch with an operator. After carefully assessing the situation, these care agents might then dispatch the closest emergency personnel or contact indicated family members or caregivers. They will also call back the senior in 30 minutes to check whether they have received proper help.
Lifeline Response App
In addition to the wearable help button included in the order, registered customers have access to a downloadable smartphone app called Lifeline Response App. It combines the effectiveness of a help button with the useful nature of the vial of life. The application stores the user’s medical history in case it’s needed, while placing a call to the monitoring center is only one button press away (or two if we count the opening of the app itself).
The AutoAlert feature is meant to negate one of the biggest fears for seniors: becoming incapacitated after a fall, and therefore being unable to call for help. The fall detection pendant combines accelerometers with barometric sensors and monitors all readings with a special algorithm that differentiates sudden movements from true falls. In cases where the wearer collapses, the device sends a distress signal to the monitoring center so that care agents can act accordingly. It should be noted, though, that the system won’t detect every fall accurately, because the sensors still have blind spots.
The heart of the Philips Lifeline medical alert system is the in-home unit called HomeSafe. By connecting either to a landline or a cellular network, the hub is able to dial the toll-free number of the monitoring service whenever an emergency occurs. The main station maintains a long-range connection with a small wearable button that is designed as a pendant or wristband. The button is lightweight and waterproof to a limit, allowing seniors to keep wearing it while swimming, showering or washing the dishes.
The base station is fitted with a two-way communication system, too. The amplified sensitivity of the speakers and the microphone allows the struggling senior to hear what the operator is saying and reply, even from a great distance. Since the company aims to cover the customers in every possible scenario, the hubs also come with a long-lasting backup battery that keeps the system running for 30 hours even without power. As a cherry on top, Philips Lifeline products perform self-testing on a regular basis to check whether the system is operational.
GoSafe & GoSafe 2
Aging adults with an active lifestyle can also enjoy the protection of a medical alert system thanks to GoSafe. The system is a combination of the traditional HomeSafe base station and the mobile help button. The advanced pendant is able to call for help without a base station by connecting to the AT&T network. Since it’s fitted with the same two-way communication technology as the base hub, the elderly person wearing it can talk and listen to the monitoring agent while staying outdoors.
Customers who are only interested in the pendant are free to ditch the home console with the GoSafe 2 package that only includes the mobile help button. It comes with a charger to keep the wearable operational, not to mention the built-in fall detection and six different locating technologies – including GPS – that can pinpoint the wearer’s location both indoors and in a crowded city.
The Philips Automated Medication Dispensing Service is designed to help seniors stay on schedule with their pills. The device does more than simply dishing out doses of medicine at set intervals of time. It’s able to house 40 days of medicine and has a solid locking mechanism so it can’t be tampered with. Up to six cups can be distributed per day, with a loud reminder constantly repeated for 90 minutes. The unit itself is connected to the company’s monitoring system and if the owner misses four occasions in a row, the monitoring agents and caregivers receive an alert.
Philips Lifeline is one of the few medical alert companies who still offer professional installation. Seniors who live alone and lack the proper technical skills may call the customer support to schedule a visit from a company representative who delivers the equipment and performs the setup during a two-hour process. The service fee for requesting professional installation is decided on a case by case basis. For quicker work it’s also possible to contact one of the Philips Lifeline’s local associates, who will perform the same tasks.
Naturally, DIY installation is still an option. In this case customers receive the package via ground shipping. Don’t worry though, installing the device doesn’t require any technical skills. The first step is to plug the base station or charger into the power outlet, while the HomeSafe landline model also requires a landline connection. The second step is to conduct a range test and contact the monitoring center for the first time.
These steps are very easy to perform when users stick to the step-by-step guide that comes with the package. For more complex operations – like the test call or programming a new button – Philips Lifeline has uploaded video tutorials that explain the whole process in more detail.
Philips Lifeline offers very straightforward pricing with no lock-ins or contracts. With the pay as you go plan being the only option, customers have the freedom to cancel the service whenever they want. Therefore each medical alert system has its own monthly price tag that won’t change. However, the absence of quarterly and semi-annual plans means that there are no added benefits for longer commitments, such as free shipping or a discount on the monthly fee.
The landline version of HomeSafe Standard is the best choice for budget-conscious seniors, considering that the charge is only $29.95 per month. Going with the cellular model significantly raises the price to $41.95 per month. For in-home devices the fall detection pendant is an optional add-on. Since the feature requires the advanced AutoAlert monitoring service, the base price of the HomeSafe Standard stations for the landline and cellular packages jumps up to $44.95 and $56.95 per month respectively.
The half-home, half-mobile GoSafe system also comes in two flavors in terms of pricing. Picking a landline connection charges $54.95 per month, while a cellular connection raises the fee to $64.95 per month. Since the GPS-enabled button is already fitted with fall detection technology, the feature comes as part of the deal. As for only the GoSafe 2 pendant, the company charges $44.95 per month.
Bear in mind, though, that the monitoring fee isn’t the sole expense when it comes to renting Philips Lifeline’s products. Each and every medical alert system comes with some form of one-time activation fee. The HomeSafe stations (with or without fall detection) must be activated for $50, GoSafe 2 has a device fee of $99.95 while GoSafe demands $149 as a one-time payment.
But don’t close your wallet just yet: without long-term commitment bonuses, customers must also add the expense of shipping too, which is another $19.95 to the final sum. In addition, the medication dispenser has a monthly fee as well, which is $59.95 per month.
Seniors who are tech-savvy or have a family member able to help them with online purchases should definitely take advantage of the site’s online ordering function. Not only is it quicker than calling the sales department, but offers the ability to redeem multiple coupon codes as well. There is typically always an active coupon code that rewards you with free shipping, while occasionally there are others that lower the monthly price or add a free gift to the package. The deals are temporary but constantly refreshed, and so it always pays off to check on the latest coupons.
Philips Lifeline received an A+ from BBB, which highlights their focus for devoted customer support. The website is very informative, with several videos and blog articles detailing the latest features. The helpdesk can be reached over the phone, email or live chat. Submitting a ticket suggests to expect an answer in one or two days, but the live chat promises faster help – though the staff isn’t available 24/7.
Philips Lifeline has an active social media presence, which is a fine opportunity to get further answers to your questions. Besides posting safety tips and educational articles, they also quickly respond to private messages and wall posts on Facebook.
Philips Lifeline hits all the right notes as a medical alert company, primarily because they cover both home-bound and on-the-go seniors and patients with their technology. The devices are feature rich and designed to stay operational in unexpected situations, such as during a fall or a prolonged blackout.
The ability to turn the smartphone into a help button with the Lifeline Response App is also commendable, just like the option to schedule professional installation. Still, the most unique feature is without a doubt the high-end medication dispenser that is also monitored by the care agents.
The only setback for Philips Lifeline is the high costs that customers must pay in order to receive the products. The monthly monitoring fees are high enough to begin with, and having no ways to reduce the amount via longer commitment discounts makes this frustratingly off-putting. On top of all that, each device carries a one-time activation fee that must be paid as well.
In the end, this might be enough to put newcomers off signing up for Philips Lifeline, even though it’s a great medical alert service for those who are new. It could still be the right solution for you, but committing yourself to it could end up costly.