• The Handbook team researched and mystery shopped the most popular at-home and on-the-go medical alert systems to find the best combination of features and affordability.
  • The base cost of a medical alert system is usually $25–$35 per month. MobileHelp offers the lowest starting monthly cost at $19.95. Common additional costs include activation fees, equipment fees, and fall detection.
  • We tested 23 devices across nine brands, consulted 10 health care experts, and researched customer reviews for over 6,000 hours to curate our list of the top medical alert systems.

Medical alert systems offer quick access to emergency services with the push of a button. The best medical alert systems also have features that support you as a caregiver, such as location tracking, communication tools, programmed reminders, and more. 

Simply put, a quality medical alert system can ease the mind of anyone worried about a care recipient while also helping older individuals stay more independent. The comfort and security a medical alert system provides is its own reward.

Searching for the right features for your medical alert system can feel overwhelming, and we understand how difficult it can be to decide. That’s why the Handbook team hand-tested 23 of the most popular medical alert systems on the market. Only the five best medical alert systems made the cut.

Best Medical Alert System Overall

Medical Guardian is our pick for the best overall medical alert system and best mobile system because of the brand’s user-friendly, on-the-go devices with GPS tracking that allow users to get out and about while trusting their reliable 24/7 monitoring. During testing, we were impressed with Medical Guardian’s quick response time and accurate fall-detection as well as the wide range of their at-home devices.

Which medical alert system is right for you?

of research
6,500+   hours
of research
35   devices
14   brands
10   experts

What you need to know about the best medical alert systems

Medical Alert Systems
Medical Guardian is our best mobile medical alert system because of its fast response time and sensitive fall detection. Medical Guardian is our best mobile medical alert system because of its fast response time and sensitive fall detection.
Most medical alert brands offer both in-home and mobile devices. Most medical alert brands offer both in-home and mobile devices.
The best devices detect both slow and fast falls and respond within one minute or less. The best devices detect both slow and fast falls and respond within one minute or less.
We tested 23 products and narrowed down our list to the top five. We tested 23 products and narrowed down our list to the top five.
Simple setup instructions aren't just helpful-they're a must. Simple setup instructions aren’t just helpful-they’re a must.

Compare the best medical alert systems

Starting monthly price $29.95 $19.95 $24.95 $27.95 $19.95
In-home range (feet) 1,300–1,400 600–1,400 1,000 800 20
Mobile device battery life Up to 5 days Up to 3 days Up to 5 days Up to 5 days Up to 40 hours
Connection type AT&T or Verizon cellular, GPS, landline AT&T cellular, GPS landline AT&T or Verizon cellular, GPS, landline Landline, AT&T cellular T-Mobile cellular, GPS

The best medical alert systems reviews in 2024

1. Medical Guardian: Best mobile system

Best mobile system
9.9 Exceptional
Medical Guardian
Starting monthly fee: $29.95
Average response time: 45-60 seconds
Accurate fall detection and GPS tracking
50% off top products with code: SUMMERSALE
  • Device type: At-home, on-the-go.
  • At-home range: Up to 1,400 feet.
  • Connection: AT&T or Verizon cellular, GPS, landline.
  • Fall detection: Yes, $10 per month.
  • Standout feature: Intuitive caregiver app with real-time location tracking and communication between caregivers.
Compare devices
  • MGClassic: At-home (landline connection), 1,300-foot range, optional fall detection.
  • MGHome Cellular: At-home (cellular connection), 1,400-foot range, optional fall detection.
  • MGMini Lite: On-the-go, worn as a bracelet, optional fall detection built into the device (no extra necklace), GPS tracking.
  • MGMini: On-the-go, worn as a necklace, optional fall detection built into the device (no extra necklace), GPS tracking.
  • MGMove: Smartwatch, step tracker, weather app, optional chat feature, optional fall detection built into the device.

Why we chose Medical Guardian best mobile system

Medical Guardian has all the best features for an on-the-go system. With features like its fast response time, accurate fall detection, and easy setup, it’s a favorite choice for active users. Plus, it’s comfortable and discreet, allowing you to wear it out and about without drawing any eyes. The GPS tracking is top-notch, too, providing more peace of mind for those who spend a lot of time from home.

Read our full Medical Guardian review.

Insights from our Medical Guardian testers

After testing nine brands and almost two dozen devices, the Handbook Team singled out Medical Guardian as one of the best medical alert system brands.

Our top takeaways for Medical Guardian are: 

  • Fast response time (average: 45-60 seconds).
  • Sensitive fall detection.
  • Easy setup.
  • Caregiver app packed with features.
  • Accurate GPS tracking for mobile devices.
  • Up to five-day battery life for mobile devices.
The MGMove is a comfortable watch with step tracking, a weather app, optional fall detection, and an optional voice-to-text chat feature.

From our Medical Guardian tester

“Every agent said they could hear us perfectly every time we called the monitoring center, even if we didn’t ask directly. We liked that they confirmed our device’s speaker quality in a natural, conversational way.”

If we had to choose a favorite Medical Guardian device, it would be the MGMini Lite. The discreet bracelet resembles an Apple Watch without the bells and whistles of a touchscreen smartwatch. The MGMini Lite fits comfortably around the wrist and detected five out of six test falls.

Person wearing MGMini Lite bracelet while holding a muffin
We love the MGMini Lite’s minimal design with one button and a speaker.

We were also impressed with the MGMini Lite and MGMini GPS tracking. The monitoring center agent detected our correct location for both mobile systems every time we asked. We could also view our location via Google Maps at any time in the MyGuardian caregiver app.

Medical Guardian app showing GPS tracking feature with Google Maps on smartphone

Of course, no medical alert brand is perfect. There were some things we didn’t like about Medical Guardian: 

  • $150–$200 equipment fee for MGHome Cellular, MGMini Lite, MGMini, and MGMove.
  • MGMini only detected four out of six test falls.
  • Additional fee for caregivers to be notified when the user calls the monitoring center.

2. MobileHelp: Best value

Best value
9.8 Exceptional
Starting monthly fee: $19.95
Average response time: 1-45 seconds
24/7 U.S. based monitoring
  • Device type: At-home, on-the-go.
  • At-home range: 600–1,400 feet.
  • Connection: AT&T cellular, GPS, landline.
  • Fall detection: Yes, $11 per month.
  • Standout feature: No equipment or activation fees for any devices.
Compare devices
  • Wired Home: At-home (landline connection), 600-foot range, no fall detection.
  • Classic: At-home (cellular connection), 1,400-foot range, optional fall detection.
  • Touch Classic: At-home smart tablet (cellular connection), 600-foot range, optional fall detection.
  • Solo: On-the-go, pairs with help button necklace and bracelet, requires extra fall detection necklace, GPS tracking.
  • Micro: On-the-go, optional fall detection built into the device (no extra necklace), GPS tracking.

Why we chose MobileHelp as best value

MobileHelp provides some of the lowest prices, with no equipment or activation fees. With fast response times and sensitive fall detection, they aren’t skimping on features, either. It’s a great value for the price, but it doesn’t have the most user-friendly app. 

Insights from our MobileHelp testers

MobileHelp systems are high-quality and straightforward. On top of a low starting price and $0 extra fees, MobileHelp also has:  

  • Sensitive fall detection.
  • Fast response times (average: 1-45 seconds).
  • Friendly monitoring center staff.
  • A $100 referral award available.

The Micro was our favorite MobileHelp device, and it was the only mobile system to detect all six test falls out of the nine brands we tested.

MobileHelp Micro highlights:

  • Detected all six test falls.
  • Weighs less than two AA batteries.
  • Costs $39.95 per month with no equipment fee.

The MobileHelp Connect app is one of the brand’s weakest features. It’s more challenging to navigate than most caregiver apps, and you receive a limited number of device location requests (30 per month).

We don’t like how the device’s location history is displayed as latitude and longitude coordinates. You have to press “see map” to view your care recipient’s location on a map.

If location tracking and an intuitive caregiver app aren’t a priority, the Micro is a great on-the-go option with sensitive fall detection. As far as the brand’s home systems go, we recommend skipping the Wired Home altogether (it only has a 600-foot connection range and no fall detection) and consider the Classic instead.

MobileHelp Classic highlights:

  • Detected five out of six test falls.
  • Has a 1,400-foot connection range.
  • Costs $19.95 per month (the lowest starting price in this review).

From one of our MobileHelp testers

“Each time we called the monitoring center, the agent asked whether anybody else needed help in the area after we confirmed that it was just a test. The MobileHelp Classic at-home system registered falls very quickly. Overall, response times for all devices were very consistent.”

Woman shown from chest to hips wearing a fall detection device on lanyard in a kitchen setting
The MobileHelp Classic fall detection necklace is small and lightweight.

One thing we didn’t appreciate during testing was the base station’s poor sound quality. Often, the monitoring center agent’s voice was garbled and difficult to understand.

3. Bay Alarm Medical: Best at-home fall detection

Best at-home fall detection
9.7 Exceptional
Bay Alarm Medical
Starting monthly fee: $24.95
Average response time: 60+ seconds
Sensitive at-home fall detection
  • Device type: At-home, on-the-go.
  • At-home range: Up to 1,000 feet.
  • Connection: AT&T or Verizon cellular, GPS, landline.
  • Fall detection: Yes, $10 per month.
  • Standout feature: Sensitive at-home fall detection necklace.
Compare devices
  • SOS Home: At-home (landline or cellular connection), 1,000-foot range, optional fall detection.
  • SOS All-in-One: At-home or on-the-go (cellular connection), pairs with help button necklace and bracelet, optional fall detection, GPS tracking.
  • SOS Mobile: On-the-go, optional fall detection, GPS tracking.
  • SOS Smartwatch: Smartwatch, step tracker, weather app, optional fall detection.

Why we chose Bay Alarm Medical as best at-home fall detection

Bay Alarm Medical is our favorite at-home system. The SOS Home Cellular with Fall Detection detected all falls during our testing. Another advantage is the clear and strong speaker on the base station. However, its SOS Smartwatch was not as impressive – it only detected half the falls we tested. As a result, we recommend choosing the Home, Mobile, or All-in-One device over the Smartwatch. 

Learn more in our Bay Alarm review.

Insights from our Bay Alarm Medical testers

Bay Alarm Medical keeps it simple with a straightforward, practical base station. Our team loves the large red button labeled “Help” and the powerful speaker—we could speak with the monitoring center agent from more than 5 feet away.

While testing the brand’s at-home and on-the-go systems, the following features stood out: 

  • Sensitive fall detection.
  • Strong, clear speakers.
  • Detailed testing instructions.
  • Help button lanyard can be disguised as a stylish necklace.
  • Lightweight, comfortable smartwatch.

Usually, at-home systems don’t stand out compared to on-the-go systems, but the SOS Home Cellular With Fall Detection captured our attention. It was the only at-home fall detection necklace to detect all six test falls. The SOS Home was also the only base station to include instructions for testing its 1,000-foot range.

Base station range instructions from the SOS Home user guide
The base station range test is broken down into three simple steps in the user guide.

A connection range test is a crucial step we wish more medical alert brands included in the setup process. Testing the base station range lets you know the farthest point the help button works in your home or yard before an emergency.We also like how the at-home help button offers adjustability, so it can rest comfortably on the chest. And if you use a Bella Charm, you can disguise the necklace as a more stylish accessory.

Person in white shirt wearing help button necklace hidden by an animal print charm.
The “Marella” Bella Charm was our favorite design because it looks like stylish jewelry.

Unfortunately, the fall detection necklace isn’t compatible with Bella Charms. The $25 charms may not be worth it if fall detection is your priority.

The Bella Charm necklace also pairs with the SOS All-in-One system, so if the wearer is hesitant to wear a medical alert system in public, they can accessorize with the Bella Charm necklace while hiding the All-in-One in their purse or pocket.

While we loved the design and comfort of the SOS Smartwatch, its performance didn’t measure up: It only detected half of our test falls (all fast, hard falls), and the speaker quality was muffled and fuzzy every time we spoke with a monitoring center agent.

A person wearing an SOS Smartwatch on their wrist

From our Bay Alarm Medical Alert testers

“The SOS Smartwatch feels like an actual smartwatch, not a medical alert system trying to disguise itself as a smartwatch. I wouldn’t recommend it for fall detection since it only detected three test falls.”

4. MedicalAlert: Best user-friendly device

Best user-friendly device
9.4 Excellent
Starting monthly fee: $27.95
Fast response time
No long-term contracts
  • Device type: At-home, on-the-go.
  • At-home range: Up to 800 feet.
  • Connection: Landline, AT&T cellular.
  • Fall detection: Yes, $10 per month.
  • Standout feature: Easy setup.
Compare devices
  • Home Landline System: At-home (landline or AT&T cellular connection), 800-foot range, optional fall detection, mobile app.
  • Home Cellular System: At-home or on-the-go (AT&T cellular connection), pairs with help button pendant and bracelet, optional fall detection, mobile app.
  • Mobile System: On-the-go, optional fall detection, GPS tracking, mobile app.


Why we chose MedicalAlert as best user-friendly device

MedicalAlert devices come with clear, detailed setup instructions and push buttons, making it our pick for the best user-friendly device. While there are no long-term contracts, all devices have a hefty one-time programming fee ($99.95). The monthly fees are fairly average but more affordable if you select an annual plan. If you’re willing to pay the extra initial fees, the push-button pendant makes calling very easy and has one of the fastest response times among medical alert systems.

Insights from our MedicalAlert testers

MedicalAlert’s simple, straightforward devices don’t require a learning curve for most users. They’re a great choice for users who are less technologically savvy and anyone who desires an effective yet practical device.

Our tester wearing the push-button pendant from MedicalAlert.

We love the push-button pendant, which makes calling for help fast and easy. MedicalAlert also had one of the fastest response times when we tested its medical alert system. But we don’t love the one-time programming fee ($99.95) for all devices. 

While testing the brand’s at-home and on-the-go systems, the following features stood out: 

  • Easy setup with clear instructions. 
  • One-push pendant for emergency help.
  • Lightweight, modern pendant.
  • Fast response time.

From one of our MedicalAlert testers

“Package was easy to open, even with just one hand. Contents were laid out clearly and neatly. Very thorough directions were included. A note about needing to pair the fall detection pendant with the home device had bolding, yellow highlighting, and some red text, so it really stood out to me. I may have assumed it was just a receipt or something unnecessary if there weren’t these visual cues.”

While the monthly fees are fairly average for medical alert devices, prices get more affordable if you select an annual plan. 

  • Home Landline System: $27.95 per month or $19.95 per month on the annual plan. 
  • Home Cellular System: $37.95 per month or $29.95 per month on the annual plan. 
  • Mobile System: $47.95 per month or $39.95 per month on the annual plan. 

While all devices work with MedicalAlert’s app, our testers note it is basic and provides little value other than caregiver alerts. If you are looking for a simple medical alert system with standard features, including optional fall detection ($10/mo.), contact list alerts, 24/7/365 response, and trained response specialists, this could be a good option for you. If you prefer a caregiver app with more features, you might want to consider Medical Guardian.

5. HandsFree Health: Best for health monitoring

Best for health monitoring
9.4 Excellent
HandsFree Health
Starting monthly fee: $19.95
Average response time: 1-45 seconds
Two-way calling with caregivers
  • Device type: At-home, on-the-go.
  • At-home range: N/A.
  • Connection: T-Mobile cellular, GPS.
  • Fall detection: Yes, $10 per month.
  • Standout feature: Smart assistant that answers health, location, and general knowledge questions.
Compare devices
  • WellBe Medical Alert Speaker: At-home (cellular connection) smart speaker, in-room range, no fall detection or wearable necklaces, two-way calling.
  • WellBe Medical Alert Pendant: On-the-go, optional fall detection, health assistant, two-way calling.
  • WellBe Medical Alert Watch: Smartwatch, optional fall detection, health assistant, two-way calling.

Why we chose HandsFree Health as best for health monitoring

HandsFree Health medical alert systems offer unique features, like a smart speaker, health monitoring, and two-way calling with caregivers, but we wish fall detection was more reliable. HandsFree Health’s systems also provide many health-focused features, like medication reminders, blood pressure and glucose tracking, and weight monitoring. It’s a good choice if you want a system to monitor your health while offering peace of mind. 

Insights from our HandsFree Health testers

You’re probably familiar with Alexa, Siri, and Google Nest—but what about WellBe? Like these popular smart tech assistants, HandsFree Health medical alert systems respond to a wake word (“Okay, WellBe”) and answer general knowledge, location, and health questions on top of connecting to a 24/7 monitoring center.

From on of our HandsFree Health testers

“The WellBe Medical Alert Speaker answered example prompts like, ‘What is the weather?’ ‘What are the treatment options for asthma?’ And ‘Where is the nearest urgent care center?’ We were satisfied with all of the answers.”

We were impressed that the necklace and smartwatch also include the voice-activated smart assistant feature, not just the speaker. Keep in mind that this feature doesn’t allow you to speak with the monitoring center, but it does offer you the ability to verbally ask for things like news, weather, and sports updates.

Other HandsFree Health highlights:

  • Fastest response time of all brands we tested (average response time: 1-45 seconds).
  • Makes two-way calls with designated contacts.
  • Answers general knowledge, health, and location-based questions.
  • Stores detailed health and insurance information.
  • Accurate GPS tracking for mobile systems.
  • Feature-heavy app.

The WellBe app has so many features it may be a little overwhelming at first. You can use the app to: 

  • Set task and medication reminders (one of the only brands where you can include the medication name and dosage).
  • Track blood pressure and glucose.
  • Save health insurance and pharmacy information.
  • Access music and audiobooks.

Most medical alert medication reminders say something vague like, “Take medication,” but HandsFree Health includes the medication name and dosage with the reminder.

Medication reminder view on the HandsFree Health app showing the medication type and reminder frequency

While we were impressed with the smart tech features, some caregivers may not think they’re worth the drawbacks, which include: 

  • Unreliable fall detection.
  • No location tracking in the app.
  • No help button necklace for speaker base station.
  • Short range for speaker base station (up to 20 feet).
  • Unclear setup instructions and many features not explained.

If more intensive health monitoring is necessary for your care recipient, or if the call feature and smart assistant may help sway them to use a medical alert system, then HandsFree Health may be your best choice.

We recommend the Medical Alert Bundle Pendant by itself or as a bundle with the speaker. The necklace had more reliable fall detection than the watch during our testing, as well as the WellBe smart assistant, two-way calling, and access to a 24/7 monitoring center anywhere with cell service.

Other medical alert system brands we considered

In addition to the brands we selected as our top picks, we also evaluated medical alert systems from GetSafe, LifeFone, Lively, Medical Care Alert, Life Alert, and UnaliWear. 

After rigorous hands-on testing, we determined that Medical Guardian, MobileHelp, Bay Alarm Medical, Medical Alert, and HandsFree Health performed exceptionally well in terms of response time and fall detection. These five brands stood out for us because their performance and services consistently functioned better than other brands we tested.

The other brands we tested didn’t meet our expectations. GetSafe is inexpensive, but you can get better features for a similar price. LifeFone has a long response time, and Lively lacks many of the features we love in our top brands. UnaliWear has strength in its smartwatch fall detection, but considering its cost and features, we do not think this device is worth the steep price. Life Alert is exceptionally expensive, and you aren’t getting the same standard of service offered through other devices. You can learn more in our Life Alert review

What is a medical alert system?

A medical alert system is a device that connects to a 24/7 monitoring center. In an emergency, such as a fall or injury, staff at these facilities can dispatch emergency services or care providers. They’re available as at-home or mobile devices a user can take on the go, ensuring their safety while running errands or engaging in favorite activities. Medical alert systems allow older adults or those with health conditions to maintain their independence while feeling secure in the knowledge that help is available at the push of a button.

For older adults who are prone to falling, a medical alert system provides a sense of security, allowing them to move about their daily lives while knowing help is available at the push of a button if they experience a fall. Many systems require a button press, but some premium systems detect falls automatically. Two-way communication capabilities are also available, allowing users to speak directly with the monitoring center staff. Some systems even monitor vital signs and glucose.

How do medical alert systems work?

Medical alert systems usually consist of a wearable device with a built-in button. A wireless signal is sent through a cellular or landline connection when the user presses the button, putting them into contact with the monitoring center. 

For systems with fall detection, a built-in sensor can detect a sudden change in position. If this is detected, the sensor automatically transmits an alert without a button press being required.

Who should use a medical alert system?

Medical alert systems benefit a wider range of people than you might think. While many older adults use these systems, they can benefit anyone who might require immediate medical attention or feel unsafe living alone. 

Handbook Team Tip #1

Create a caregiving plan before you need it—don’t wait until an illness or injury makes it necessary.

Older adults are at a particularly high risk of falls, due to changes in balance, gait, or medical concerns such as drops in blood pressure. These falls can lead to serious injuries, especially if help is prolonged. A medical alert system can provide essential assistance should a fall happen. 

Beyond falls, medical alert systems offer peace of mind for those with chronic conditions, such as heart disease and epilepsy. With the push of a button (or through automatic detection), trained professionals are automatically contacted to assist with the situation. 

A medical alert system is also a good fit for someone with a disability, especially for someone who is living independently but would benefit from knowing assistance is available 24/7 if something emergent were to arise. Caregivers also benefit from using medical alerts, which allow them to step away to take care of other tasks like housework, preparing meals, or running quick errands.

While many medical alert users rely on these devices for the long term, it is also true they could be beneficial for someone who is recovering from an injury or surgery but lives alone or spends part of their day alone.

Types of medical alert systems

Medical alert systems can be used at home, connected through WiFi or your cellular services to a base station, but some systems use GPS and cellular service to allow users to take their alert system on-the-go. Alert systems typically use a button or voice commands that allow the user to connect with their monitoring center, but some have built in fall detection.

In-home medical alert systems

An at-home medical alert system consists of a base station with a two-way speaker and a help button necklace or bracelet. The user can contact the monitoring center from their backyard or even a few blocks from their home, depending on how far the connection range is between the base station and the necklace. The agent will still dispatch emergency services to your home and call your emergency contacts even if they can’t speak with you.

On-the-go medical alert systems

On-the-go medical alert systems are either compact mobile devices (about the size of a pager) or smartwatches. These devices call the monitoring center anywhere with cell service and have a built-in speaker to communicate with the monitoring center staff.

Pros and cons of medical alert systems

What we like about medical alert systems

  • Most devices come out of the box ready to use (“plug and play”). 
  • Monitoring center staff have access to user medical history, emergency contacts, and other info.
  • Fall detection devices automatically contact the monitoring center even if the wearer can’t. 
  • Many include a free caregiver app with location tracking, battery monitoring, reminders, and other helpful monitoring tools.

“My friend, who is in her seventies, has shared how safe she feels and how grateful she is to have the device in case of an emergency,” says Christina Peoples, a gerontologist based in Greensboro, North Carolina. “She has been contacted by the medical alert company in the past due to a fall and was thankful for the support, even though it wasn’t a major fall. My friend really does believe in the importance of being safe whether in the home or out and about in the community.”

What we don’t like about medical alert systems

  • Can’t speak with a monitoring center agent through basic help button necklaces or bracelets.
  • Base station range may vary depending on location and placement.
  • Some wearable devices are bulky and uncomfortable. 
  • Must remember to charge the device.

How to choose the best medical alert system for you

The ideal medical alert system depends on your lifestyle and personal circumstances. In order to select the best medical alert device, consider your budget and the most important features you’ll need. Here are a few things to keep in mind when shopping:

Type of system

Do you spend most of your time at home or on the go? If you’re more independent, perhaps an on-the-go or mobile system is the most suitable. If you spend the majority of your time in your home, a home system with a base station will suffice. You can also choose bundled packages that include both at-home and on-the-go systems.

Range and connection

The range of your home system—how far you can go and still connect to the base unit—will be longer if your at-home system operates from a cellular connection versus a landline. Conversely, if you have inconsistent cellular service in your home, a landline connection might be preferable for reliability.

Fall detection

Fall detection is crucial for those at risk of falling due to health conditions, limited mobility, or other factors. These devices instantly alert the monitoring center when a fall is detected.

Many older adults or those with chronic medical conditions fear the possibility of falling or having a medical emergency when alone […] Knowing that help is just a button press away can offer significant reassurance, decreasing anxiety and stress.

Nilou Esmaeilpour, clinical director of Vancouver, British Columbia-based Lotus Therapy.

Although fall detection doesn’t prevent falls, getting help less than an hour after a fall helps minimize the increased risk of future falls, reduced mobility, and pressure-related injuries.

Research shows that fall detection devices worn around your wrist have a higher volume of false alarms from frequent hand and arm movements. Fall detection necklaces worn on the chest are usually more accurate, but many brands now offer medical alert watches with fall detection.

Learn more about the best medical alert systems with fall detection to help you decide which system is right for you.

Device response time

Response time is how long it takes to speak with a monitoring center agent after calling for help or triggering fall detection. 

The average response time for the best medical alert systems was one minute or less:

  • Medical Guardian: 48 seconds.
  • MobileHelp: 44 seconds.
  • Bay Alarm Medical: 60 seconds.
  • HandsFree Health: 33 seconds.
  • Medical Alert: 44 seconds

The average response time across all nine brands we tested was 49 seconds.

Battery life

How long does your medical alert system last before it needs a charge? If an on-the-go system is best for your care recipient, the battery should last at least a full day. 

Luckily, most mobile systems have batteries that last for multiple days, with Medical Guardian and Bay Alarm Medical offering the most extended mobile battery life here: up to five days. Keep in mind that medical alert watch batteries drain quicker since they have more features. Overall, battery life also varies depending on cell signal strength and how much you use the device.

If you’re considering an at-home system, battery life isn’t as big of a concern since the base station stays plugged in. If there’s a power outage, most base stations include a backup battery. 

Help button necklaces and bracelets have the most notable battery life: They usually last one to three years. Some brands even track the battery and automatically replace the help button when it’s running low.

Once you have settled on the above details, you’ll have an easier time choosing the medical alert device that best suits your needs.

Additional features

  • Caregiver support: As a caregiver, what kind of information can you access? Most brands notify designated caregivers when the user calls the monitoring center. Medical Guardian is the only brand that charges for this feature—every other one in this review includes these features for free (which we think should be true for all brands). Some brands allow caregivers to communicate with each other and their care recipient through the corresponding mobile app. This is a useful feature for multiple caregivers, especially remote caregivers.
  • Lockbox feature: Some medical alert systems offer an optional lockbox that secures keys outside the home for caregivers or emergency responders to access. The lockbox sends alerts when opened so you know if someone has accessed your home. This can give you peace of mind if you or your care recipient live alone. Consider whether key access for caregivers or medical personnel is helpful for your situation.
  • Wellness check-ins: Select medical alert providers offer wellness check-ins as a feature. An agent reaches out at set times to check in with you or calls to check when you press your help button to confirm whether it was pressed accidentally or intentionally. If you don’t answer after multiple tries, they will notify your emergency contacts and dispatch help. This proactive monitoring can assist if you become incapacitated and unable to call for support yourself.
  • Activity tracking: Newer medical alert models may track step counts, distance traveled, calories burned, and even sleeping patterns. Viewing these activity metrics requires a paired smartphone app. If monitoring exercise or activity levels motivates you or your loved one, seek out systems with robust fitness tracking. Syncing to Apple Health or Google Fit can provide further insights.
  • Medication reminders: Some medical alert systems integrate medication reminders and are capable of connecting to “smart” automatic pill dispensers. This helps prevent skipped doses or double-dosing mistakes. The monitoring center receives alerts if doses are missed, allowing them to provide friendly reminders. If forgetting medication is an issue of concern, medication assistance through a medical alert device may offer a solution.
  • Water resistance: Some wearable and wall-mounted medical alert systems are water-resistant to withstand rain or splashing, but are not capable of being submerged in water, which means you cannot take them in the shower, bathtub, or pool. Consider investing in a waterproof device if bathing or swimming with your medical alert button is important to you—especially since the bathroom is a fall-prone environment.

How much do medical alert systems cost?

Handbook Team Tip #2

Be on the lookout for extra fees. Some medical alerts (usually smartwatches and other smart devices) come with hefty one-time equipment fees in addition to the recurring monthly charges.

Monthly Cost $29.95 $19.95 $24.95 $27.95 $19.95
Fall detection cost $10/mo $11/mo $10/mo $10/month $10/mo

The base cost of a medical alert system is the monthly monitoring fee. This fee is usually $25–$35 per month and varies by brand and device. 

Final medical alert system costs may include the following fees:

Activation fee

Some brands charge an extra fee (usually $30 or more) to activate the medical alert system. This fee is usually not advertised as part of the overall price, so look out for it during checkout.

Equipment fee

Most at-home systems are rented, meaning you don’t pay for the equipment, and you’ll return it when you cancel your subscription. Mobile medical alert systems and smartwatches are usually purchased, which is where the equipment fee comes in. Equipment fees for brands featured here are $99–$199.95.

Fall detection

Fall detection can be added to most at-home, mobile systems, and even smartwatches for $10–$11 per month. 

Add-on accessories

Wall buttons, a lockbox, and extra help button necklaces are common safety equipment you can add to your package.

Protection plan

Protection plans ensure your equipment is repaired or replaced if damaged, stolen, or lost. Most plans cost less than $10 per month. 


Shipping fees are about $12–$15. Most brands offer free shipping when you choose a quarterly or annual payment plan.

Insurance coverage

Unfortunately, Original Medicare does not cover medical alert systems since they aren’t considered durable medical equipment. Some Medicare Advantage plans offer medical alert system coverage, but it depends on your insurance plan and location. 

Most private insurance plans don’t cover medical alert systems, but always check with your insurance provider to see if coverage is available.

How to save money on a medical alert system

  • Flexible spending accounts (FSA): These pre-tax funds are eligible to pay for medical alert systems. Remember, your FSA is connected to your employer, so you can’t use it when you retire.
  • Health savings accounts (HSA): You can use your HSA to pay for a medical alert system even if you’re retired, but you can’t add to your HSA once enrolled in Medicare.    
  • Payment plan discounts: Many medical alert brands offer discounts when you pay quarterly (four times a year) or annually (once a year) instead of month-to-month. Common perks are free shipping, a free month of service, or a discounted monthly monitoring fee.
  • Seasonal discounts: Look for limited-time discounts throughout the year, especially around holidays or events, like Fall Prevention Awareness Month in September.

Our testing experience

When shopping for a medical alert system, you can only learn so much information by searching a brand’s website or speaking with a sales representative. You can get a general idea of features, but you won’t know what it’s like to use it. Is it simple to set up the base unit? Is the help button necklace comfortable to wear? How easy are the buttons to press?

That’s why we did the testing for you. We want to provide the most helpful information about our favorite medical alert systems based on our experiences.

The Handbook Team tested 23 medical alert systems across nine brands: 

  • Bay Alarm Medical 
  • GetSafe
  • HandsFree Health 
  • LifeFone
  • Lively
  • Medical Care Alert 
  • Medical Guardian
  • MobileHelp
  • UnaliWear 

We considered well-known brands with a generally positive reputation when choosing medical alert systems to test. Our team picked brands with various pricing options, device designs, and safety features.

Our testing process looked like this:

Our Medical Alert System Testing Process
Purchase medical alert systems as mystery shoppers. Purchase medical alert systems as mystery shoppers.
Follow the user guide to set up the system and call the monitoring center. Follow the user guide to set up the system and call the monitoring center.
Record how long it takes to reach the monitoring center. Record how long it takes to reach the monitoring center.
Conduct six fall tests (three slow and three fast falls) with fall detection devices. Conduct six fall tests (three slow and three fast falls) with fall detection devices.
Test GPS location tracking for mobile systems. Test GPS location tracking for mobile systems.
Charge devices. Charge devices.
Download and test caregiver app. Download and test caregiver app.

The Handbook Team went through a checklist of 30 questions while setting up and testing each medical alert system. As part of this, we followed each device’s user guide and noted what was intuitive or difficult about the setup process.

From one of our MobileHelp testers

“The MobileHelp Classic has super simple directions with large pictures and fonts. The Quick-Start Guide is larger than others and is super simple to follow.”

We spent the majority of our testing calling the monitoring center since this is the most important feature of any medical alert system. If the device had fall detection, we attempted six additional calls with fall detection tests. 

From one of our MobileHelp testers

“For all fall tests, we waited 60 seconds with the device still on the ground before claiming whether the test was successful. Many fall detection devices don’t register a fall if it’s followed by sudden movement.”

While it’s difficult to duplicate true falls in a test environment, and more real-world fall data is necessary for a standard accuracy rate of fall detection devices, we wanted to test fall detection accuracy with a uniform testing method. 

Our tester used their cell phone to time response time after pressing the button on their MobileHelp medical alert device.
Our tester used their cell phone to time response time after pressing the button on their MobileHelp medical alert device.

Our team conducted three “slow” and three “fast” test falls while wearing the fall detection device. We started all slow falls by sitting in a chair at 90 degrees and dropping to our knees before falling face down on a mat. 

For the fast fall, we dropped the device from shoulder height to the mat to replicate a fast, hard-impact fall. 

“Generally speaking, a hard fall is a fall that can be difficult to stop, happens quickly, and results in a strong impact to the body,” says Sean Marchese, a registered nurse with more than 20 years of experience. “A slow fall is a fall that occurs more gradually, and the impact is likely weaker. However, individuals are not immune to injury after a slow fall.” 

If you or your care recipient have a higher risk of falling, Marchese recommends being proactive and speaking with your doctor about assistive devices and prevention strategies.  

Our final verdict

We believe Medical Guardian, MobileHelp, Bay Alarm Medical, Medical Alert, and HandsFree Health are the best medical alert system brands on the market after mystery shopping and testing nine brands and more than 20 devices. 

Medical Guardian was the most impressive all around. Its accurate fall detection, fast response times, feature-filled caregiver app, friendly monitoring staff, and device variety shot it to the top of our list. 

If you’re looking for a simple, reliable medical alert system but need to watch your budget, we recommend MobileHelp. 

Bay Alarm Medical was the most impressive at-home system. The brand’s fall detection necklace was the only in-home necklace to detect all six test falls, and the Bella Charms that accessorize (and disguise) the help button necklace are a fun bonus. 

HandsFree Health is the most untraditional medical alert system on our list. The WellBe smart assistant is available with the speaker, necklace, and watch, and it answers health, general knowledge, and location questions on top of storing health information. We like this option for those wanting more engaging medical alert system features.  

When shopping for the right medical alert system for your care recipient, include them in the process by asking them what device designs they like and what features are important to them. Once you choose a medical alert system together, use a brand’s trial period to see how they like wearing and using the device every day.

Frequently asked questions

No, Original Medicare (Part A and B) doesn’t cover medical alert devices. Medicare Advantage (Part C) may cover full or partial costs, but coverage varies by insurance plan and state. Always check coverage details with your insurance provider.

AARP does not recommend a specific medical alert system, but it offers discounts on Lifeline medical alert systems and invisaWear personal safety devices for AARP members.

Yes, medical alert systems can help older adults with memory impairment. Many devices include task and medication reminders that can be helpful, but vague reminders, like “take medications,” may not be beneficial for some users. Some medical alert systems notify the caregiver if the user does not acknowledge the reminder, making it easier to follow up with their care recipient.

It may also be difficult for some users to remember to wear their medical alert system daily. Wall buttons and other non-wearable devices can be more helpful for older adults with memory impairment.

No, there are no free medical alert systems, but some programs can help with partial or complete coverage. Eligible veterans and their family members can receive a free MedEquip Alert medical alert system through their Veterans Affairs benefits. Use the Eldercare Locator to see what resources are available in your area to help pay for medical alert system costs.

Average response time, range (at-home systems) fall detection, GPS tracking, and battery life are the most important medical alert system features.

Yes, medical alert systems are worth it. Medical alert systems can give older adults a sense of independence and security, which can positively affect their mental health and well-being. Most medical alert systems offer fall detection, location tracking, emergency contact instructions, and other crucial safety features for users and caregivers.

Experts recommend creating a caregiving plan before you need one instead of waiting for an illness or injury that makes it necessary. Caregivers should approach the conversation with future care recipients from a place of collaboration, concern, and caring to explore ideas and set expectations. It can be helpful to discuss specifics about who might offer care, whether they’d want to stay at home in the event of a medical condition that affects their independence, and how comfortable they’d be with health care professionals coming in to help.

Most insurance plans do not cover medical alert systems. Medicare Advantage (Part C) may cover some of the costs of a medical alert system, but coverage will vary by plan. Some private insurance plans may also offer some coverage for medical alert systems.

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