What Are Modern Medical Alert Systems

Amy Sullvian

Jun 20 2018 comments- 8

The increased sophistication of modern medical alert devices has made these life-saving systems more affordable than ever. Technology is the main reason why the global modern medical alert system market is growing rapidly. It has increased from $1.23 billion to $1.85 billion within the last 5 years, and it’s expected to go as high as $2 billion by 2020. The convenience, reliability, and affordability of modern life alert bracelets and pendants have become a must-have for the elderly, weak, and disabled people. They offer increased independence for your loved ones and peace of mind for family caregivers.

The state-of-the-art modern medical alert systems of today offer a range of features from many service providers. Luckily, there are hundreds of medical alert systems reviews available online. These can help you find the right medical alert pendant or bracelet for your parent or elderly loved one.

But what are these systems exactly, and how do they work? Here, we briefly explore the history of medical alert systems and discuss what features you can expect from modern medical alert systems.

A short history

Medical alert systems have been used to protect against medical emergencies for many decades. The first documented development of a home alert system dates back to the 1970s when Wilhelm Hormann conceptualized the Hausnotruf (home alert). Hormann intended to use the home alert system for social communication and to allow transfer of biomedical data along.

In 1975, the American International Telephone Company developed an emergency phone system that truly realized the concepts put forth by Hormann. The solution included a pendant that automatically dialed preconfigured telephone numbers in case of emergencies.

Five years later, the German company AEG-Telefunken Backnang GmbH produced a medical alarm system. In the 1980s, live operator services were introduced for medical emergencies. Over the past few decades, advances in modern medical alert system technology have transformed them into an affordable service for seniors and the disabled that millions have come to depend upon.

modern medical alert

Features of a modern medical alert system

The first medical alert systems were rudimentary in comparison to today’s systems. These are some of the features that you can expect modern medical alert systems have:

Help at the click of a button

Whether your loved one is sitting on the couch not feeling well or has fallen in the bathroom, modern medical alert systems work with just a push of a button. This is because most modern medical alert systems use wearable help buttons. These are generally available as neck pendants or wristbands. Pressing the button sends a radio message to the homeowner’s base unit. The unit then sends an emergency signal through a landline phone to the operators standing by to help. They can send an ambulance to save their life or alert a friend or neighbor that your loved one needs help.

Water-resistant and waterproof help buttons

In the past, medical alert buttons couldn’t get near water. But most modern medical alert systems come with water-resistant or waterproof options so seniors can do regular activities of daily living without making annoying adjustments. This feature is especially important for when people in fragile health are bathing, as falls in the bathroom are extremely common.

Immediate help

The word “immediate” has been redefined by the technology behind modern medical alert systems. In the past, seniors living alone without an alert system could wait for hours before getting any medical attention. Now, with modern medical alert systems such as ADT Health and LifeFone, an individual in distress gets connected to an emergency respondent within 20-30 seconds. These fast response times help ensure medical attention happens quickly, preventing additional injuries or medical catastrophes.

Landline-free services

Not all elderly or disabled people are stuck in the technological past. That’s why many of the top modern medical alert systems, such as MobileHelp, offer their life alert systems without having to rely on a landline. These companies instead use cellular service providers to guarantee dependable, immediate connectivity to operators who can dispatch help.

Two-way, hands-free communication

A modern medical alert system will provide two-way, hands-free communication. The central cellular or landline based units that are integral parts of such systems have high-quality speakers and microphones that can pick up the voice of the person in trouble. This ensures your loved one is connected to an operator during an emergency situation.

Battery backup

Medical alert systems of the past couldn’t function during power outages. Without battery backup, they were totally useless unless connected to an active power source. The modern medical alert system uses its battery backup to provide protection for a substantial amount of time without the need to charge.

On-the-go protection

On-the-go protection may be the biggest improvement in the modern medical alert systems compared to their older counterparts. In the past, a medical alert system only protected a senior if he or she was at home. That meant they couldn’t call for help if they went outside of their home. Nowadays, if your loved one has a mobile phone with them, their medical alert system can integrate with the phone’s GPS. This then provides on-the-go protection. So even if an elderly person is far away from home, they can simply press a button. Then emergency responders are dispatched to the person’s location.

Caregiver tracking

With a modern medical alert system, caregivers or neighbors can track their loved one or elderly parent. Online portals and mobile applications help make this happen. For example, if your elderly mother has a medical alert system that provides caregiver tracking, you can log on to the online portal. This allows you to know where she is at all times and also learn certain information about her health.

medical alert caregiver tracking

Fall detection

Falling is one of the most dangerous things that can happen to a disabled or elderly person.  Many modern medical alert systems offer automated fall detection. This is a feature of the pendant or bracelet that can sense if a person has fallen. When it does, it sends a message to the system operators to provide immediate help and hopefully prevent life-threatening injuries.


Modern medical alert systems have a come long way in the past few decades. They’ve served to help the elderly age in pace and offer them greater independence. You can expect features like on-the-go protection, long battery backup times, and two-way, hands-free communication. Medical alert systems not only give the user protection against unforeseeable emergencies. They also give their families and caregivers peace of mind that their loved one is never without help at hand.

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Questions & Answers

i belong to medical alert system

What is the purpose of a flat button with a string call neck button for?


Most medical alert systems offer a neck pendant or a bracelet option for their devices. Both work well for use in an emergency.

Majeed Aldamah

I am looking for this device because i am living who don’t speak English or spanish
I pass out many time but fotunatly my son near me but now i am alone
My problem I can’t pay for this device due to my limited income (gov. assistance so is there any help or cheap device to save my life ?
Thank you in advance


Thank you for your comment. You will need to contact Medicare directly to see if they will help you cover the cost of any medical alert systems.

Shelly Gehrke

Are there alert buttons that have fall detection only and no button to push: -for patients with Dementia so they don’t have the option of pushing a button so they don’t hit the button just to hit it when their memory is poor and they don’t remember what it’s for.


Hi Shelly,
Automatic fall detection, while quite accurate, is not guaranteed to be 100% accurate. This is why there is also a button. The trained personnel at the call centers should be used to working with a variety of clientele, including dementia patients who may accidentally call when not needed.

simone smith

i have medicare, nedicaid, and cigna, will one of these pay for my bracelet that goes off if i fall? i live in winchester nh


Hi Simone. You’ll need to check your specific insurance policies to see what their coverage options are. Good luck!

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