Medical alert ratings--are they accurate?

3 judges give confusing 10 ratings overlaid with exploding head emoji

7/10     3/10     5/10     8/10

People rely heavily on ratings, but what do they actually tell you? They generally tell you about the product, but not necessarily if the product is right for you.

So, a few things to consider:

  • What am I seeking in a medical alert system for myself or my loved one?
  • Beyond numerical reviews, are there written reviews from people like me?
  • Regardless of reviews, does the company I'm considering provide exactly what I need?

Things to watch out for:

Keep in mind that most website's ratings operate on a “pay-to-play” scheme, where medical alert companies pay them for each lead and purchase conversion.  Thus, they’re incentivized to give higher numerical ratings to companies that pay more for referrals instead of writing objective reviews that capture the true essence of each alert.

If you visit a medical alert systems ratings site and only see numerical ratings without a thorough description or table capturing system features side-by-side, keep searching for better information online or by calling each of the medical alert systems providers.

One way to check how credible a medical alert systems ratings website is by asking the author of the ratings whether he or she has actually received and tested each system physically. More times than not, these websites have not tested the systems they write about. This is a red flag.

Also, a thoughtful ratings article or website would segment ratings by user needs.  Medical alert systems are not one-size-fits-all. For users who are more able-bodied, you should pay closer attention to ratings and reviews of mobile medical alert systems.  For more frail users, you should focus your search on in-home landline and cellular medical alert systems.

If you spend more time in the home with the intended user, you are more likely to be able to assist the user in maintaining and instructing on medical alert systems that feature more complexity.  In contrast, if you live separately from the user and spend most of your time away from them, you want to purchase a system that is simple for even the least tech-savvy user to setup and use.

Lastly, ask yourself what the ratings reveal or don’t reveal about the company’s customer service and support. How easy does the company make it to handle billing and, conversely, how easy is it to cancel if you don’t like or no longer need the system? Are there hidden fees and contracts?

Most medical alert systems are priced between $25-60/month. Some feature activation fees, others do not. Some feature long-term contracts and hidden fees, others do not.

When reviewing ratings, be careful to evaluate prices in context. Sometimes the lowest price is not the best, as these companies tend to strip away features and benefits that may be very important to you and your loved ones. Also note that prices of mobile medical alert systems and fall detection systems tend to be more expensive than those of in-home medical alert systems.

Make sure that you look beyond the medical alert systems ratings to get a comprehensive breakdown of these systems and how they meet your loved ones needs for aging at home. You’ll come away with much more peace of mind and confidence in your buying decision.

If there is one website you can trust about medical alert ratings and reviews, it is AARP. While there is no AARP medical alert system, Amy Goyer from AARP provides great resources for consumers to learn about and compare the features of medical alert systems.