Landline vs. Cellular Medical Alert Systems

Jordan SteinbergJul 9, 2017

What Is a Medical Alert System?

A medical alert is an alarm system intended to protect those with medical conditions, who are at risk, and may be unable to help themselves in an emergency. By wearing a necklace or pendant, which can be equipped with a two-way communicator, the user can immediately alert the monitoring company with the push of a button. The company will then summon the appropriate authorities in turn. Such medical crises may include cardiac episodes or falls.

This personal emergency response, as it relates to medical alert systems, is based around a preinstalled home console. While this base station is capable of acting an emergency communication device, it is not guaranteed that the user will be nearby in the event of a crisis. As a result, the pendant worn by the user operates as a proxy. Unfortunately, this is not the perfect substitute, as the pendant will need to remain within a specified radius of home console in order maintain functionality.

Certain providers of medical alerts, in an attempt to circumvent this limitations, have begun expanding their line of offerings. In addition to service add-ons, such as fall detection, they have started to offer medical alert systems best suited to the user’s preferred communication infrastructure — landline of cellular.

Pros and Cons of Cellular Systems

Pros:

  1. Good for users who do not possess landline capabilities
  2. The user is able to move freely in and around his or her home
  3. Easier Installation

Cons:

  1. Relies on good cell reception to function
  2. Battery needs to be recharged on a regular basis
  3. Sound quality may be less than ideal

Pros and Cons of Landline System

Pros:

  1. Better sound quality
  2. No need to worry about battery charge
  3. Audio reception is not a factor

Cons:

  1. User must stay within the base station’s radius
  2. If service is interrupted, the outage may last a long time
  3. Installation is more difficult

GPS Applications

These days, it is a stereotype to believe that all seniors are frail and housebound. Many are increasingly maintaining active and healthy lifestyles and do not wish to remain within the radius of their medical alert systems. As such, medical alert companies have recently begun introducing GPS-enabled mobile systems.

With these, the base station becomes fully mobile, and the pendants transform into mobile phone applications. The tracking aspect of the technology allows for the monitoring company, as well as designated caregivers, to ascertain the user’s location in the event of an emergency. Although this mobile option requires a smartphone and cell signal, this is only option that provides users with full freedom of movement, in addition to the expected sense of security. 

Ultimately, the best medical alert variant is dependent on the available infrastructure that the user has access to. For instance, landline systems make the most sense if reliable cellular reception is difficult to come by. In that same vein, wireless medical alert systems are ideal for for those who either do not have access to a landline network, or who desire easy installation. Regardless of choice, our top 10 medical alert companies can help make the decision that's right for you.