Medical Guardian began in 2005 in its founder’s Philadelphia apartment. Before too long, the company had opened a headquarters downtown in the City of Brotherly Love. Inc. magazine named it one of the fastest-growing companies in America between 2013 and 2016.
Medical Guardian products include a “Peace of Mind” guarantee. What does that mean? For caregivers, it means that the products will ensure you don’t have to take on any more of a burden than necessary. Caregiving is hard, and burnout is all too common. For patients, it means you have backup if you live alone. If you have a medical emergency, you’ll be able to get assistance even if you’re unable to get to a phone.
Equipment & Tech
Medical Guardian divides its medical alert systems into two categories. In-Home products are only to be used in and around your house, while the On-the-Go category of products can be used either at home or out on the town.
Each category has three different products. Only one of those works with a landline, and that’s the In-Home category’s Classic Guardian. It includes a 1,300-foot coverage area. That’s quite a bit higher than the industry average, which comes in somewhere around 600 to 800 feet.
The other In-Home products are Home Guardian and Family Guardian. Both these options use cellular coverage, though the Family Guardian package also comes with a 1,300-foot range (the range for Home Guardian is 600 feet). Every In-Home product includes a base station with two-way communication. That means you can connect with a dispatcher who will help you get the kind of help you need. In some cases, that will mean contacting a family member or caregiver. In other cases, that means sending paramedics to your home.
All the In-Home products come with a help button that can be placed either around your neck like a pendant or on your wrist like a bracelet. Those buttons are all waterproof enough to wear in the shower as well, since most falls occur on slippery surfaces. That doesn’t mean you should immerse the buttons in water for kicks. It’s designed for showering and bathing, not for swimming.
The On-the-Go product line includes many of the same features as the In-Home ones, with one major exception: There’s no base station. You instead have a portable device with two-way communication. Once you press the button, an operator will use GPS to track your location and send the kind of help you need. This device is designed to be worn on your belt, though you can also stick it in your purse or pocket.
There are three types of On-the-Go products: Mobile Guardian, Active Guardian, and Freedom Guardian.
The cheaper Mobile Guardian plan comes with a wearable help button that works as long as you’re within 350 feet of the portable device. The Mobile Guardian wearable help buttons do not offer two-way communication, though. If you aren’t close enough to the portable device to be heard, then the monitoring center will attempt to reach you via phone. If that doesn’t work, a dispatcher will send emergency medical services to your location. So if you’re going out, make sure to bring both the portable device and a wearable help button.
The more expensive Active Guardian package includes an all-in-one help button and communication device. If you want less equipment to keep up with while you’re out and about, this might be the best choice for you. We should note, though, that this device can only be worn as a pendant around the neck.
Finally, the Freedom Guardian is a smartwatch and medical alert device rolled into one sleek package that you fasten to your wrist. It includes oversized buttons, reminders and alerts, and even the weather forecast.
Monitoring & Features
Four of the six packages mentioned above include a fall detection option for an extra monthly fee. The Mobile Guardian and Freedom Guardian plans do not, so if you want automatic fall detection while you’re out and about, you’ll need to get Active Guardian. Wear the fall alert button around your neck. If you have an accident, it will automatically connect you to a monitoring center. There’s no need to speak any words or press any buttons before you get connected.
Worried about losing power? The In-Home devices all have a battery backup that should last at least 30 hours. The Mobile Guardian’s battery life is up to 24 hours, while Freedom Guardian’s battery lasts up to 2 days. The Active Guardian has the best battery life of all, as it can go for up to 5 days without needing a charge.
If you’re interested in activity monitoring, then the Family Guardian package is the one for you. It’s the most comprehensive package available from Medical Guardian. Why is activity tracking useful? Let’s say your loved one usually gets up at 7 a.m. and heads to the kitchen for a cup of coffee. Family Guardian’s three safety sensors will be able to detect if they don’t get out of bed one morning. Caregivers can receive notifications via email or smartphone if something is out of the ordinary. Caregivers can also check in on their loved one through the Family Guardian app.
Those are the basic packages, but each package also comes with available accessories. Those accessories include wall-mounted buttons for the home that work within 2,000 feet of the base station. You can even purchase voice-activated wall buttons that work when you say the words, “Call Medical Guardian” twice or pull on the attached string.
Don’t want emergency services to break down the door if you’re in trouble? You can purchase a weatherproof lock box and store a house key in it for paramedics and other first responders.
This equipment isn’t exactly cheap, and you may be worried about replacing equipment that gets stolen. In that case, you should purchase a protection plan that keeps you from getting charged a $350 replacement plan if your system gets stolen, damaged, or lost.
One final note: Medical Guardian doesn’t manufacture its own products. It instead rents equipment made by other companies. That won’t matter to everyone, but it’s still worth a mention.
Installation & Usability
Medical Guardian promises that the box your equipment comes in includes everything you need to set up your system. There’s no need to hunt down extra tools. Just look at the box’s user manual and activation guide.
For additional help, you can check out the installation videos available on YouTube, or you can watch them by logging in through the customer portal.
Monitoring center employees are trained to help you while also keeping you calm. The U.S.-based call centers employ operators who speak both English and Spanish. While Medical Guardian’s main office is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., the monitoring centers are open around the clock.
If you aren’t sure what products to buy, you don’t necessarily have to call and talk to an agent. You can go online and complete a two-minute risk assessment. You can even take it for someone else. It’s based on things like age, activity level, and time spent alone. You do have to give your name, phone number and email before the site will display your risk score, though.
Cost & Pricing
The At-Home options are priced as follows:
- Classic Guardian starts at $29.95 a month
- Home Guardian starts at $34.95 a month
- Family Guardian starts at $79.95 a month
- Mobile Guardian starts at $39.95 a month.
- Active Guardian starts at $49.95 a month.
- Freedom Guardian starts at 44.95 a month
What about add-ons? For Fall Detection, you’ll need to pay an extra $10 a month. Mounted wall buttons are $2 a month, while voice-activated wall buttons are $5 per month. You can also pay $2 a month for additional neck or wrist buttons. A lockbox can also be added for $2 a month.
If you don’t want to be billed monthly, you can opt for quarterly or annual billing. The billing cycle you choose will also determine if you get free perks like free ground shipping, a free lockbox, or even a free month of service. But you’ll pay the same price per month unless you opt for annual billing.
Medical Guardian claims to have the fastest response time in the game, but it doesn’t say exactly how fast that is. The company’s website only says you’re connected to a dispatcher “within moments.” That’s good to know, but we don’t blame you if you want numbers that are a little more specific.
The pricing structure requires you to dig a little deeper to compare products, especially if you’re torn between an In-Home product and an On-the-Go product. But the company does offer a decent variety of options at prices that are largely comparable with what you’ll find elsewhere. Family Guardian is by far the priciest system, but it includes a ton of extras like activity sensors and the Family Guardian app. It’s a worthy investment for anyone who wants a top-of-the-line medical alert system.