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Philips Lifeline Review: Is Lifeline's medical alert service right for you?

Our experts tested Philips Lifeline and we’ll give you all the details about price, service and device performance

Last Updated: Mar 11, 2020

Philips Lifeline Review

They go by several different names - medical (or personal) emergency response systems (MERs/PERs), medical alert systems, or simply fall buttons. Whatever we want to call them, medical alert systems like Philips Lifeline provide a vital service in our lives, allowing seniors to maintain their desired lifestyles with the security of being able to trigger a medical or caretaker response whenever needed.

Though it dates back to the ’70s, Lifeline - now Philips Lifeline, having been acquired in 2006 - hasn’t coasted on its reputation or rested on its laurels. Nowadays the devices are fancier and Lifeline offers protection not only in the home, but outside of the home for active seniors as well.

But how well does Philips Lifeline compare to the competition? We thoroughly tested the products and services offered by Philips Lifeline so that you can determine whether they’re the right company for your family.

Review Summary

Pros

  • Fall detection available.
  • No long-term contract needed and monthly cost is a flat rate whether you do one month or more.
  • Device design - nice, very small, improved design.
  • A bevy of options to customize the ideal service plan for you.
  • Smartphone app tie-in to help loved ones and caregivers coordinate.
  • Waterproof devices and buttons.
  • Long battery life.
  • Great (and deserved) reputation for customer care.
  • Free shipping.

Cons

  • Not the most affordable option.
  • For very large homes, the range of their HomeSafe devices isn’t as large as some competitors.

Bottom Line

Philips Lifeline isn’t the cheapest service on the market. Nor do its home devices have the longest range. However, they are one of the best companies for medical alert service and deserve their sterling reputation for customer service. You get what you pay for with Philips Lifeline. And for those who want the ease of having the system installed for them - for an additional fee - Philips Lifeline is hard to beat in that respect. Our testers were most impressed by their GoSafe2 product, which has it all - home and on-the-go service as well as fall detection, all in one small waterproof device.

Our Top Picks

Philips Lifeline

Philips lifeline offers a range of medical alert devices and an impressive service from their response team. A solid choice for a medical alert system.

For decades, this company has helped seniors maintain quality of life with the safety of being able to get help in times of need. Though not the cheapest system, the quality of their service and devices explains why they’re one of the most trusted.

Why you should trust us

Innerbody recently celebrated its 20-year anniversary online. Over the past two decades, we have helped tens of millions of readers make more informed decisions involving staying healthy and living healthier lifestyles.

We extensively test, experience and order from each health service we review. Our review of Philips Lifeline is no different. We try our best to give you, our readers, an unbiased exploration of at-home health services, free of marketing jargon or gimmicks. We evaluate the service based on our adherence to quality, the latest medical evidence and health standards, and a simple question: would we use the product or service ourselves if it weren’t part of our job, and would we recommend it to family and friends?

Additionally this review of Philips Lifeline, like all health-related content on this website, was thoroughly vetted by one or more members of our Medical Review Board for accuracy.

What does Philips Lifeline do?

Philips Lifeline is a medical alert service in the U.S. and has been in operation since 1974. In fact, Lifeline was the first outfit offering medical alert services in North America.

Over the ensuing decades, they’ve helped countless families keep their elderly loved ones safe and helped millions of seniors enjoy their lifestyle with confidence and security. It goes without saying that Lifeline has saved many lives and has earned a solid reputation. Out of the many medical alert service providers today, they still have the most subscribers.

The primary service offered by Philips Lifeline is a flexible medical alert service: if an elderly person needs help but can’t dial a phone, they need only push a button. There are many instances in which seniors might realize they need help. It could be due to a fall, or could be that they felt unusual or unwell when getting out of bed. At the push of a button, Philips Lifeline’s response center determines the nature of the need - whether it is a medical emergency or if the need is for one of the person’s own contacts to respond (such as family, neighbors, or a caretaker).

For decades, Lifeline was focused on the safety of seniors in their homes. This is still a major focus of their products, but Philips Lifeline has broadened beyond the confines of home. They now offer home protection and on-the-go service as well - HomeSafe and GoSafe, respectively. Philips Lifeline also provides an app experience designed to coordinate care across a circle of loved ones, and even offers a device that helps ensure a senior gets his or her proper daily medications.

The Philips Lifeline response team

The medical alert service provided by Philips Lifeline can only be as good as the response team answering the alerts. Thankfully the company fully understands this; it’s an area in which they excel and stand out for their service.

The response team is made up of over 200 specialists. Together, they respond to an average of 18,000 calls per day. The response team is staffed 24/7, 365 days a year, with an average response time of 12 seconds. They speak over 140 languages!

Backup, redundant systems ensure that even in times of power outage or a locally disruptive event or disaster, the response team will be active and able to respond to any call.

HomeSafe products

For customers who want medical alert service strictly in the home, Philips Lifeline offers their HomeSafe line of products. These can be differentiated by a couple different variables:

  • Mobile vs. Landline
  • Standard vs. AutoAlert

So there are ultimately 4 main options, with the opportunity to further refine your service for your own needs.

  • HomeSafe Standard landline-based service without fall detection - $29.95/month.
  • HomeSafe Standard mobile-based service without fall detection - $43.95/month.
  • HomeSafe with AutoAlert for landline-based service (includes fall detection) - $44.95/month.
  • HomeSafe with AutoAlert for cellular-based service (included fall detection) - $58.95/month.

As you can see, if you have a landline, you can save over $10 per month. Prices change and new deals periodically arrive, so check current prices here.

The standard products can be either a pendant (worn around the neck) or a wristband. AutoAlert products are available as pendants only. And all buttons in the HomeSafe product line are resistant to water.

Activation fee

For all HomeSafe devices, there is a one-time additional $50 activation fee.

Device range

In our testing, we found that Philips Lifeline devices for the home didn’t have sensor ranges comparable to leading competitors. The home devices have a range of about 400 feet. Other services offer devices whose ranges extend over 1000 feet. If you’re looking strictly for home-based alert service and have a very large home, we believe other service options may be more practical.

Why would I want automatic fall detection?

We consider fall detection to be a vital feature. While it’s a little disappointing that you have to pay extra for it, the feature is well worth the added cost. Falls are the biggest cause of fatal and non-fatal injury among seniors in the U.S. each year. As handy as a push button typically will be, there are circumstances in which seniors fall and hurt themselves and are unable to push an alert button. In those cases, Philips Lifeline’s trained call center professionals are alerted to the fall.

How does this work? Philips Lifeline devices are equipped with sensors to measure acceleration of movement as well as change in barometric pressure, and can even distinguish between false-alarm movements and a truly dangerous fall. When a fall occurs, the device detects it and call center professionals are automatically able to communicate with you. If you’re unconscious, the associate can reach out to the appropriate emergency responders.

GoSafe2

For its GoSafe product line, Philips Lifeline has chosen to focus exclusively on GoSafe2. We found this offering to be their most impressive and the best value for more active seniors. It’s a small, all-in-one device, combining the technology of the 2-way voice communicator with the alert button and automatic fall detection - all in one convenient, waterproof pendant. This allows seniors to benefit from a robust medical alert service at home and on the go.

  • The device can handle being under a meter of water for up to 30 minutes.
  • Worn around the neck, its cord is designed for safety so that it would come apart under the kind of strain that could accidentally choke a person.
  • GoSafe2 relies on the AT&T wireless network, so it will work great wherever there is AT&T coverage.
  • Purchasing GoSafe2 means you get the single, do-it-all device, a charger and a setup manual.
  • Battery life on the GoSafe2 device can stretch to 3 days without a recharge!

Our testers were impressed. This isn’t the absolute best battery life on the market, but it’s very strong.

The GoSafe2 costs $49.95/month, with an additional $99.95 one-time device fee.

Other features and products

Philips Cares

Philips Cares is the app, accessible through smartphone or computer, that allows a circle of loved ones and caretakers to coordinate efforts and provide support to the Philips Lifeline device owner. Once you or a loved one purchases the Lifeline device, you simply download the app and connect it to the device account.

Then, start building the care circle. This organization of people is very useful in times when help is needed. Care center associates working with the device owner can determine who within the circle is best to contact in situations when help is needed. And everyone in the circle can share care-related information as well as managing their availability.

All of this adds up to a strong network of organized support and a feeling of security for all those involved. We found the app to be very user-friendly.

Medication dispenser

Philips Lifeline can help ensure that no one forgets to take a medication, or accidentally takes the wrong drug. This device can help manage even the most complex and high-volume prescription routines.

  • It can dispense 60 little cups of medicine and up to 6 pre-programmed times per day.
  • It lets a caregiver know when the medicine is skipped.
  • Its rechargeable battery can last for 18 hours, in case of a power outage.

At $59.95/month, this device and service are not cheap, but the medication dispenser helps a great deal in organizing prescriptions and allowing remote loved ones to monitor that a senior is taking his or her medications appropriately. A 2004 study demonstrated that seniors remembered to take their medication successfully over 98% of the time when reminded by the Philips Lifeline medication dispenser.

Getting started with Philips Lifeline

Getting started with service is very straightforward, but there are some things to keep in mind with shipping, depending on which product is best for you. Here’s how to get started.

1. Order your desired product

Go to the Philips Lifeline website. When you select the best device for you or your loved one, you’ll also specify whether you want to self-install or get professional installation (See below). After specifying delivery and payment information, your shipment will arrive in the delivery window. It was a very straightforward ordering experience.

2. Create your care circle

Once your subscription has begun, download Philips Cares, the app that allows you and your loved ones and caregivers to organize. This care circle is crucially important to your success using Philips Lifeline products, because when you need help, these folks will be among the options for the response team to contact, as appropriate. Invite the people you need to invite - perhaps friends, family, neighbors, or caretakers - and then you’ll be in the ideal position to make the most of this service.

3. Installation

When it comes to installation to begin your service, you have the option of doing it yourself by following the quick installation guide shipped with your order. Our testers found the instructions to be easy to follow and were not confused by any of it. But for those who just don’t want the hassle, a $99 installation fee brings a Philips Lifeline installer to do all the work for you, regardless of your product. (If you do it yourself, you’ll pay $19.95 for shipping and handling, along with the ability to talk with help staff during installation if needed.)

Shipping

The only downside to the ordering process? It took 6 weeks for the GoSafe2 device to arrive! By contrast, it takes less than a week for HomeSafe products. This isn’t a matter of being misled, however - Philips Lifeline states that the GoSafe2 product will require 6-8 weeks to arrive. If you can wait that long, we found that the device was worth the wait. However, some customers have more urgent needs.

Returns

Philips Lifeline offers a 30-day return policy with full refund on products, as long as they’re returned in unused and pristine condition in their original packaging.

Final thoughts

From our perspective and based on testing, Philips Lifeline’s greatest strengths are:

  • Enough options to accommodate people with different device preferences and lifestyles.
  • No need for a commitment or contract.
  • High trust and customer care, with an impressive response team.

You can get medical alert devices with longer range, and you can find cheaper devices as well. But millions of Americans trust Philips Lifeline and have not been disappointed. Philips Lifeline’s GoSafe2 product impressed our testers. With no contract required, your risk of trying Philips Lifeline is relatively low, and you might just find it’s the ideal solution for your family’s needs.

What criteria do we use to judge health service companies?

At Innerbody, we customize our evaluation criteria depending on the type and nature of the health-related service. For Philips Lifeline and other health services and products, we have five areas that we use for our evaluations:

Quality: How well does the company deliver its core service(s) to the customer? Is the quality of the service high enough that we would recommend it to loved ones without hesitation? If not, why not?

User-friendly: How intuitive and user-friendly is the service? Does the device/program/app/website achieve a good degree of user-friendliness for its customers?

Value: Are you getting your money’s worth? Are there any hidden costs or charges? Does the company offer discounts?

Privacy: If health data is stored, will your data be stored securely? Are payments secure?

Customer Support: Particularly in situations where ‘one size fits all’ doesn’t make sense, how well does the company help to make the service ideal for you?

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