Apple Watch as Medical Alert: Review

Apple Watch as Medical Alert

The Basics

Product name: Apple Watch 

Manufacturer / Distributor: Apple

Compilation: Q4 2018

This page contains our Apple | Apple Watch review.

 

 

Analyst Summary: Apple Apple Watch

The Apple Watch is one of several products we compared in a piece of research called "Smartwatch as Medical Alert". If you are interested in this category of product, we recommend you look at this comparative review.

There are two distinctly different ways to use an Apple Watch as a medical alert. This review is about using the Apple Watch with only its native emergency alert software (called Emergency SOS).

The second approach is to use an Apple Watch with a special Medical Alert App installed. We recently tested the App called FallCall Lite, with the Apple Watch (review of FallCall Lite here).

The big difference between these two approaches to using an Apple Watch as a medical alert is who gets called when you press the "button". With the Apple Watch using its own built-in Emergency SOS App the device calls 911 directly when you press the button. With the FallCall Lite App installed, the App calls a professional monitoring service when the button is pressed.

The other big difference is that with iOS12 the Apple Watch 4 and Emergency SOS come with a fall detection algorithm. This is a big deal.

For more on these important differences, read Smartwatch as Medical Alert.

To see how to use and set up Emergency SOS on your Apple Watch see this article on Apple's website.

 

The Pluses

It looks great.

You get the full functionality of the Apple watch, so as far as smartwatch capability goes, you can't beat it.

The Apple Watch and Emergency SOS App are at present the only way we know of to get a smartphone medical alert with an automatic fall detection algorithm.

To call for help you hold down the button on the side for a few seconds. You do NOT need to open any App and look for buttons on the screen. 

 

The Minuses

It calls 911 directly.

This means there is no reassuring professional who gets paid to be nice to you in a variety of greater or lesser "needing help situations". Just a busy 911 professional, and you definitely worry about whether it is right to bother them in anything but a life and death emergency.

And you don't want to "test" this functionality, because calling 911 for no reason seems like a very bad idea. So would you remember what to do in an emergency in the absence of "practise"?

Finally, we don't believe all 911 providers have the technology to receive a notification of your exact position automatically from the watch. So if you can't tell them where you are, that may be a problem. We think this is changing, and so in the future this may be a non-issue.

For more on this topic, read Smartwatch as Medical Alert.

 

The Details

For lots more details about this product, including the topics below, we suggest you read "Smartwatch as Medical Device?".

In "Smartwatch as Medical Device?" we discuss topics including:

  • charging;
  • can you wear it in the shower?
  • ease of use;
  • where it does and does not work;
  • response time;
  • how well it can locate you;
  • any "failures to call for help" in our testing;
  • how this category of medical alert smartwatch compares with more conventional medical devices; and
  • features for caregivers (like knowing where the wearer is).

 

Emergency Contacts

You can set up the Emergency SOS so that you add specific individuals as emergency contacts. You can choose whether or not you want them to get a notification if you press the emergency alert button, and if you do they will get your specific location.

 

Available on Amazon

It seems you can now buy these Apple Watches on Amazon, and maybe at a somewhat reduced price compared to Apple.

 

 

 

* Note: If you use these links when you buy any of the products we write about, we sometimes get a small percentage of the sale from the manufacturer, which we use to support our research. (This does not affect the price you pay). See How we Fund our Work.

 

 

 

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 YOU — 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. 

 

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.

 

Comments

 

from Mary Ann Love (unverified) at May 17, 2020

This is FABULOUS article. So VERY well done. Am extremely grateful for your research. Can't tell you the hours I've spent studying medical devices. Have one for in house tied into phone line and pleased. But been looking for something to wear when walking outside and my large iphone too heavy, pendants also heavy and uncomfortable and don't easily convert to wrist mode or comfortable in wrist mode (know because have one). Road was leading me to Apple Watch. Your research and article cinched it for me. Plus, all will be paid for in first year. THANK YOU!

 

from Maryanne (unverified) at April 11, 2020

Can your Medical watch be cellular so you do not have to have your phone close by?

 

from Mike (unverified) at May 24, 2020

You can get the Apple Watch with cellular service. The one issue with all smartwatches is battery life so the person will have to remember to recharge at night. However, my dad would not wear a fall device around his neck so the Apple watch is perhaps more appealing. Mike Nures

 

from Rochelle Weil (unverified) at February 24, 2020

Can you have an Apple watch if you have an Android phone.

 

from djcoffey (member) at April 11, 2020

No. It's in the apple ecosystem and you'll need an iphone.

 

from Frans Rijnbout (unverified) at February 15, 2020

Outstanding information; thank you
Frans

 

from Debbie (unverified) at September 19, 2019

My mom doesn't want to wear a watch, but I see there is a pendant option.  Do you know if the fall alert works if the watch is on the pendant rather than the wrist?  

 

from Dawn Walker (unverified) at August 01, 2019

Do you have volunteer speakers who would give a presentation to a large group of seniors in Melbourne? 

Discuss, Comment, Ask Questions


 

Last Updated: April 30, 2020.

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Review Star Rating: 
5.0 Stars