Best of Breed: Medical Alert Systems

As part of our quest to help find the best medical alert system for a specific individual, we are creating this series of "Best of Breed" comparisons.

In them, we do hands-on, detailed, testing in which we compare medical alert systems with similar features. These comparative analyses are designed to help us pick a best of breed in each of several different categories of medical alert.

At Tech-enhanced Life, our community of retired technologists, Longevity Explorers, and children of aging parents have been conducting hands-on testing of a wide variety of different medical alert devices for years. These "best of breed" comparisons summarize the results of our medical alert evaluations.



Best Medical Alert System, by Category


How to Choose the Best Medical Alert System for You

We believe the quest for the best medical alert system starts with a series of questions about your needs, and then some answers that lead to a choice of a specific "category" (we call them flavors elsewhere) of medical alert system. Only after figuring out which "category" is right for you, is it time to dig into the "Best of Breed" analyses above. The place to start with all this is with our Medical Alert Systems: Selection Guide.

(If you are confused about the different terminology, personal emergency response system is an alternate term for what are more commonly known as medical alert systems. These products are also called PERS)

If you know which type (category) of medical alert device you need, then you can either use our online selection tool to do your own research into which product you want, or you can take a look at our "best of breed" analyses above.


Why Comparative Evaluation is Key

The Internet is chock full of material about medical alert systems, as it is a fairly large market with a lot of small companies all competing to sell you their products.

You can find numerous "review sites" for this category of product. But almost no actual hands-on testing. In fact, when you read the majority of the "review sites", it seems clear that no-one has actually tested the products at all. And the "reviews" are mostly repurposed marketing material from the companies that make the products.

We think it is essential to perform actual, hands-on testing of these products if one wants to make specific recommendations.

But we think you need to go further than that. For each "category" of medical alert system, we decided what is needed is a sort of comparative evaluation of the most promising products in that category. This way we end up being able to recommend both the best medical alert system in a specific category, as well as the best medical alert system for a specific person.

If you take a look at the specific "best of breed" analyses at the top of the page, you will see that each one involves the following steps:

  • generating a list of the most promising products in the category ("breed") using various types of desk research;
  • acquiring all the most promising products in the category;
  • designing a simple research protocol to let us do a comparative evaluation that tests the more important features of the products;
  • carrying out actual hands-on testing of the individual products, each with the same protocol, and capturing the results;
  • synthesizing what we learned and condensing it into a simple "best medical alert system" report for each category.


More useful than reviews alone

We do indeed capture our analysis of each specific medical alert and write it up in a review, and you can find our medical alert reviews here.

However, unless you are the sort of person who likes to pore over individual reviews yourself, make a detailed table of comparisons yourself, and then decide which features matter most for the analysis, we think it is far more helpful to have the sort of best of breed comparative analysis we have created here.



About Our Medical Alert Research

We started evaluating medical alert systems back in 2015, when members of the Tech-enhanced Life community told us they were having great difficulty making sense of the competing marketing claims, and that there seemed to be no objective source of information on the Internet about these products.

In our initial evaluations we acquired, and did in-depth, hands-on evaluation of over 50 medical alert products, and then published our research in the form of a "Guide" and "Selection Tool" — so others could benefit from our work. Since 2015 we have updated this research multiple times, and expanded it, and today it represents a rather comprehensive resource for anyone who needs to find the right medical alert for a specific life situation.

The people who do the actual evaluations are technologists rather than journalists, and are themselves either older adults or the children of aging parents.

And for our initial research project, we recruited a panel of expert advisors to guide our questions, including clinicians and aging services professionals with extensive experience in working with the older adult population that uses these medical alert systems. Professional competencies in the advisor panel included social work, physio-therapy, and nursing, and experience operating independent living communities.

We strive to produce independent and objective research — with a focus on helping older adults and their families. 

Thus, our research is NOT funded by any of the vendors. Nor do we accept sponsored content or allow the medical alert manufacturers or distributors to influence what we write. For our initial research project we acquired all the products at our own expense, without the vendors being aware we were conducting the study. As we subsequently updated our research, we sometimes ask the vendors to loan us the equipment.

We do sometimes use affiliate links, which means that if you purchase products that you learn about on this website, we sometimes receive compensation as a result of being a member of an affiliate program. See How we Fund our Research.


Learn more

View our full Medical Alert Systems Guide to see more analysis like this.





The Medical Alert Email Series & Lecture

Get our series of bite-sized, email insights on medical alerts: 

  • It starts with a recorded overview lecture by Dr. Caro; and
  • Continues with specific advice on how to find the right medical alert product for your life situation.
  • You will also get Tech-enhanced Life's (monthly) newsletter.

You can unsubscribe at any time.

Get "Medical Alert" email series (free).




Help Support our Research

We hope you found this work useful. If you like what we do, and would like to see it continue, please consider contributing time, ideas, or some funding to help support our work.

We are currently raising contributions from those who find our work valuable to complete some new research initiatives, all targeted at helping older adults live better for longer. And we are always looking for contributions of ideas about what to work on, or help executing some of our projects.

Learn More: Help Support our Research.



Reader Comments: "Best of Breed: Medical Alert Systems"


from Regina Lennon (unverified) at November 11, 2022

Is there a chart or a comparison table that would show me the various watches to be used as a fall detector and call for help. thanks

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Key words: 
best medical alert system, best personal emergency response system

Last Updated: September 10, 2021.