Medical Alert Systems: About our Research
Many of our members have suggested we dig deeply into the category of products called Medical Alert Systems (a Personal Emergency Response System), and see if we can shed some light on which ones work best, and for whom. In this research project we are setting out to do just that.
Get the Results
The Results: Best Medical Alert Systems for You.
We evaluated over 50 medical alert systems, and purchased the most promising, then conducted hands-on testing of the products in real-world circumstances. The work is independent, objective and (we think) deep.
The results of our research were summarized in the form of reviews and a running diary of our test activities. Then we turned what we learned into a guide to help select the right medical alert system for a given person.
Among other things, we found that different life circumstances and different people need different products. We decided there is no such thing as "the best medical alert". But there is often a handful of "best medical alert systems" for a given person.
Background to this Research Project
Friends and families of older adults kept asking us how to find the right medical alert system.
At first, we assumed this information must be out there on the Internet, and that we would just need to find it. However as we started Googling we learned two things.
- There are a LOT of websites devoted to reviewing medical alert systems.
- Even after we had studied them in depth, we realized that none of them really answer the question of which medical alert system is right for me.
Existing information fell short
When we searched on the Internet for information we found many websites with names that suggested they were a source of reviews of this type of product. However many of them seemed to be lightly camouflaged marketing vehicles for one or another brand. And those that were trying to be somewhat objective all fell short of what we wanted.
The thing that was conspicuously missing from any work we could find on the topic of medical alert systems was how to choose one that was right for a specific individual. Many of the existing sites simply review products and give them a star ranking. But as we learned more, we realized that there was no such thing as the best medical alert. Because different people need very different features from these products, and none of the products are equally well suited to all the likely ways different people will wish to use them.
So, we decided that there was a need for something different, and that is what we set out to create with this project.
In an earlier research project (on home sensors for older adults), we realized that there is no such thing as "the best product", although there may well be "the best product for a given person".
In other words, any analysis that is going to be useful needs to start with some consideration of who the person is that will be using the product, what type of lifestyle they have, and how they might be needing the product to function.
Because our goal is to create a decision tool that lets you find the best medical alert system for YOU, we have had to come up with a quite different approach than a typical review site. The key differences are that the analysis needs to be comparative (ie comparing products not just discussing individual products in a vacuum). And most importantly, the analysis needs to focus on the products that will work best for YOU, rather than trying to identify a single "best product for everyone".
Independent, Objective, Deep
We want to produce a piece of work that provides actionable insights to older adults and their families. We want it to be clearly independent from any manufacturer or sales channel for the products themselves, and we want the work to be done with some depth, objectivity, and analytical rigor. And transparency concerning our financial incentives.
To accomplish this, we have set out some guidelines for ourselves about how we approach our work, and we also include a section on how we fund our research.
View our Research Guidelines and how we fund our research.
View The Results:
Please click on the green button below to see the results of our research project, and learn how to select the best medical alert system for a specific individual.
Team & Advisors
The team is led by Dr. Richard Caro, PhD physicist and co-author of a recent guide to home sensor systems for older adults.
Our advisory panel contains 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 team include social work, physio-therapy, and nursing, and experience operating independent living communities.
Our research projects draw on the experience and wisdom of our Longevity Explorers. These circles of older adults meet monthly to explore new products and technologies that can help us all live better for longer. This project has benfited greatly from their hands-on participation and insights.