Philips Lifeline, Response App: Review

Philips Lifeline, Response App: Review

The Basics

Product name: Response App 

Manufacturer / Distributor: Philips Lifeline

Compilation: Sept. 2015

This page contains our Philips Lifeline Response App review.

 

 

Analyst Summary: Philips Lifeline Response App

This is a Medical Alert App for iPhone and Android that connects older adults to the same Philips Lifeline responder call center that is used by the conventional Philips Lifeline medical alert systems.

Acquiring & Installing the App

Written By: Richard Caro.  Last Updated: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 14:41.

I set out to add this App to my iPhone. You can buy it on the Philips Lifeline website for $13.95/mth. It does not look like it would be a different price if I had the hardware alert system as well, although perhaps that is available if one digs deep enough.

The website was elegant and modern and the process of taking my money and collecting my home details and the names of "responders" went very smoothly. It told me to expect an email with details.

Disappointing experience getting started

Written By: Richard Caro.  Last Updated: Thu, 06/02/2016 - 16:04.

A week went by and I realized I had not heard back. I downloaded the App, and of course it required a password and account before I could use it, which presumably was supposed to come in the email I never received. 

Inconvenient activation

I called the Philips Lifeline support number from the website. The first person I talked to knew who I was (from my phone number?) and transferred me to someone else. That person said he "had not done this before" and put me on hold for 7.5 minutes. While on hold I had to listen to a very perky and annoying advertisement that repeated endlessly.

When the customer service rep came back online he explained (very politely) that:

1. They had been "Having issues getting email sent out". Thus I had not got an email in a week, and there seemed little chance I would get one any time soon.

2. They had no trouble taking my money and my account was now active and had been active for a week, since I first paid.

3. He gave me my username and password over the phone which should allow me to set up the App on my phone.

4. I asked how I would enter the details of who to call in an emergency and the like. He offered to let me do that over the phone. I said I preferred to do it online. He explained that their online system had been "down for a little while". When pressed he explained that actually it had been down "for a few weeks". I pressed him on this and he confirmed it had been down "for weeks".! I went online and confirmed that indeed their online system was down.

First test

I entered the username and password I was given into the App and it turned on fine. I tested the emergency button and after 1.5 minutes it reached a responder. I explained this was just a test and asked if they knew where I was. After discussion it seemed as though I needed to have location services on at all times on my phone for this location tracking to work.

I turned on location services (not just when the App is open but at all times!)

 

 

First two days of testing

Written By: Richard Caro.  Last Updated: Thu, 06/02/2016 - 16:07.

I have tested this App on three occasions so far at different locations in San Francisco, as part of a series of simultaneous tests of three response Apps and four conventional medical alert devices.

When it works, the App seems to do its job. The response center people are friendly, and the location seems to appear on their screens as it should.

However, the App itself has several annoying bugs, one of which is concerning.

Bugs in the App

screen freeze lifelineScreen freezes

The third time I used the App, I pressed it, and instead of opening to show me a button I can press to summon help, it came up with a pretty "Philips Lifeline" logo which stayed on my screen without anything further happening. I waited for three minutes and the logo was still there. No button to press, no phone call, and no responder. You can see this image on the right.

I went back to the iPhone home screen and then again pressed the Philips App. Same result. Again, after three minutes I gave up.

Then I double clicked on my iPhone home button to show all open Apps, closed them all, went back to the homescreen and retried the Philips App. This time it worked fine, but in an emergency I would not have been able to do all this. It would have failed me.

A few hours later I tried the App again. Same problem. You get a homescreen with a Philips Lifeline logo, but no button to press. And pressing on this screen results in nothing happening. Here is what you see. I consider this a fatal bug.

Annoying popups

Each time I use the App, it does two annoying things.

First, it often has a popup that gets in the way of action and which reminds me to turn on WiFi on my iPhone.

Second, the launching of the App itself is slow. It takes what seems like a long time for the home screen to clear and a button to appear that I can press. And as mentioned above, sometimes you never get the button!!

Testing completed

Written By: Richard Caro.  Last Updated: Mon, 08/15/2016 - 10:57.

I included this App with three others in our "Mobile Medical Alert System: Comparative testing" analysis.

As part of this test, we tried out this App in multiple locations and on multiple days over the space of a month, in real world situations. We compared it to other hardware based emergency response pendants as well.

Not recommended

My conclusion is: I strongly do NOT recommend this App, despite the fact that I very much liked the Philips Lifeline hardware product we also evaluated.

The big reason is as follows:

In over 50% of the times I tried out this App (more than 20), the App froze as described above. This is simply unacceptable.

I tried various things, like turning my phone on and off. I could usually get the App to work after several tries. But the problem often re-occured the next time I tried to use the App to summon help.

 

 

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Product Line & Company: Philips Lifeline

Philips is a very large and highly regarded company with products ranging from consumer products to medical devices. Lifeline was acquired by Philips in 2006, and Lifeline was one of the pioneers of the medical alert business in the USA.

You can see more about the history of Lifeline on the Philips Lifeline website here. The website says that Philips Lifeline "has served over 7.5 million people" and claim "650,000 subscribers". They emphasize the quality of their call center and level of training of their responders.

As best we can tell this company is the market leader in medical alert systems, both from a... .........Read more

 

About this Research

This product review is part of an extensive series of medical alert system reviews of over 50 products, including hands-on evaluation and real-world testing of the most promising ones, in real-world situations.

These reviews and analyses are part of our Research Project designed to help older adults and their families Choose the Right Medical Alert System for THEM — the result of which is our Medical Alert Systems: Selection Guide.

We have tried hard to make this research as independent and objective as possible. It has not been funded or sponsored by any of the vendors of these products, and includes no advertising or "sponsored content". The team that conducted this research has strong scientific, clinical, and aging services backgrounds. You can read more about the team that did this research at the links above. 

 

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