Most of us have seen the commercials for Jitterbug phones. These are specially designed to be more accessible to senior citizens. But you may not know that GreatCall, the company behind the Jitterbug, also offers medical alert products.
While phones and smartphones are great, medical alert systems provide features that phones can’t match. The most notable of those features is fall detection.
But first, a few things about the company: GreatCall is based in San Diego, California. The company has been around since 2006, although it’s experienced a couple changes in ownership in recent years. As of 2018, the company was owned by Best Buy. Yes, that’s the big box electronic retailer.
Let’s take a closer look at GreatCall with our review of their medical alert products.
Equipment & Tech
You can pick from two medical alert devices with GreatCall. One is called Lively Mobile. The other is Lively Wearable. That’s pretty much it. It doesn’t have nearly the selection that other medical alert companies do, which can be good or bad. If you find a lot of choices overwhelming, it’s good. That said, it’s fair to wonder if the limited product selection means you’re missing out on some key features.
But let’s look at the devices themselves. The Lively Mobile was formerly called Splash, and it’s designed to be, well, mobile. It’s small enough for you to clip to your belt or wear it around your neck like a pendant. If you’d prefer a wristband, you can buy one that GreatCall says is “specially designed.” Women may also prefer to tote it around in their purses.
The Lively Mobile is also waterproof. To be more specific, you can immerse it in about three feet of water for up to 30 minutes. That makes it ideal for showering or bathing, but not so great for going swimming.
It also comes with a speakerphone that allow you to communicate with 5Star Urgent Response, which is the monitoring company GreatCall works with. All you need to do is press a single button. The device includes GPS technology so agents can locate you even if you’re not at your residence.
What about battery life? The company’s website doesn’t appear to show long it lasts on average, but it does recommend charging the device every single day “to ensure you are always connected.”
Then there’s the Lively Wearable. It’s worn around your wrist like a smartwatch. In fact, it has a lot of features that are like a smartwatch. It also includes an emergency button that you can press if you need help. However, you also need a smartphone for the Lively Wearable to work right. More specifically, you’ll need either an Android or iPhone.
No charging is required, as this device comes with a replaceable battery. It also has the same waterproof rating as the Lively Mobile.
Monitoring & Features
As mentioned above, both Lively Mobile and Lively Wearable connect you to 5Star Urgent Response with the touch of a button. But what about automatic fall detection? It’s available with both devices, but only the Lively Wearable doesn’t require upgrading to a premium package to use this feature.
According to the company, fall detection “senses sudden falling movements” when the device is worn around your neck. Once a fall is detected, you’ll get connected to a 5Star agent.
But you don’t have to wait for a life-threatening emergency to contact 5Star. GreatCall also encourages customers to contact an agent for a variety of situations, including what it calls “anxious situations.” It lists getting locked out of your house as an example of an urgent situation that’s not quite an emergency. Car trouble would be another instance where you could call and get assistance.
The company brags about its “fastest agent response time.” It apparently got that award in 2014. from Good Housekeeping’s Research Institute. But it doesn’t break down exactly how fast that time is on average.
What if you want to call 911 directly and bypass 5Star? You can do that on the Lively Mobile by simply pressing the button for 5 seconds until you hear “Calling 911 now.”
Both devices also come with an app that helps your family members and loved ones keep track of you without being too invasive. The GreatCall Link app does things like send an alert to a family member if you contact 5Star. Your relative will get a push button notification that they can press for more information.
Another neat feature is something called Urgent Care. It allows you to contact a nurse or doctor any time of day for medical advice regardless of your health insurance situation. You may also be able to get prescriptions for some medications over the phone.
GreatCall uses the Verizon Wireless network, but you don’t have to be a Verizon customer to take advantage of the network.
Installation & Usability
The set-up for both devices only takes a few minutes. If you purchased the Lively Mobile directly from GreatCall, then you don’t have to worry about going online or calling to activate the device. You just need to power up the device and receive a test call.
The Lively Mobile requires you to download the Lively App, then pair it with your smartphone. You’ll also need to tell loved ones to download the GreatCall Link app and add you as a connection.
If you need additional assistance, feel free to visit GreatCall’s support page to download user guides and watch how-to videos.
You can reach the customer support line by calling 800-733-6632. If you prefer email, shoot a message to email@example.com. The customer service phone line is open 7 days a week from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. Pacific Time. According to the company, all its customer support representatives are based in the United States.
If you aren’t happy with your GreatCall service, you can take advantage of the 30-day return policy. You are required to return the device in “like new” condition in the original box with all the pieces and components. If GreatCall determines you’ve met that requirement, then you’ll be refunded the service charge for the first month, the device cost, any activation fees, and any applicable fees. You won’t, however, be reimbursed for shipping costs, and you’ll also be charged a restocking fee.
Cost & Pricing
As of this writing, Lively Mobile was running a special for $37.49 plus the cost of a monthly plan and activation fees. Those fees will vary depending on what package you choose. The Basic Plan is $19.99 and only gets you 5-Star Agent Response.
If you want more features, go for the Preferred Plan at $24.99 a month. That includes the Urgent Care and GreatCall Link features.
But if you want automatic fall detection, then the Ultimate plan is your best bet. It comes with both fall detection and a product replacement plan. It’s $34.99 a month.
Lively Wearable retails for $49.99 plus $14.99 monthly plan and activation. At the time of this writing, the Lively Wearable was temporarily sold out. Instead of an option to buy, we got directed back to the Lively Mobile. If the Lively Wearable interests you, keep checking the product page to see when it’s back in stock.
Overall, GreatCall doesn’t have the most comprehensive line of medical alert devices. It’s easy to tell that GreatCall started out by selling Jitterbug phones (and still do). That said, the Lively Mobile is a good product that should work for a lot of different lifestyles. The Lively Wearable is also solid, although the fact that it’s out of stock now is a bit disappointing.
If you want more choices from a company that has a longer history in the medical alert device field, then GreatCall probably isn’t for you. It’s also not for you if you don’t want to pay extra for automatic fall detection, as getting fall detection with Lively Mobile requires you to buy the most expensive package.