Home Guardian with pendants
The Dignifyed pick for the best landline system is the one offered by Medical Guardian. The company's service still uses the landline unit that we tested on Top Ten Reviews, a sister site of Dignifyed, several years ago, which proves that it still has the longest range of any landline base unit on the market. When you combine this with the above-average call center results in our current tests and an above-average value on the package, Medical Guardian is a good choice.
The Technology: Classic Guardian
In this review, we ordered the Home Guardian from Medical Guardian, which is the company's midrange package, available for $34.95 per month. The Home Guardian is, in fact, a MobileHelp CBS2-01cellular base unit. In our speakerphone tests, this MobileHelp unit had the highest marks for quality, and if you're going to choose a midrange package, any medical alert service that uses a MobileHelp CB-S01 is a good choice, in terms of technology. The pendant has a reliable signal with a range that is broad enough to cover most homes and apartments.
Classic GuardianWe recommend the Classic Guardian, however, which is Medical Guardian's base unit (and is pictured above). It costs $29.99 per month, which is average, though you can lower the monthly payment with bulk payments. While the pendant's range is outstanding, it is a landline unit, so you'll need to have a home phone line for it to work.
Pendant Reliability & Distance Tests
In 2015, we tested the Classic Guardian as part of our comparative review for Top Ten Reviews. The most significant part of these tests is that the reach of Classic Guardian's wireless pendant was 2,000 feet, which was 700 feet farther than its specified range and nearly 300 feet longer than the pendant that came in second. And this distance completely shatters the reach of the Home Guardian (MobileHelp unit), which has a specified range of only 600 feet — and that distance became even smaller when it was tested.
Classic Gaurdian pendant.So if you are concerned about being able to work in your yard or go for a short walk down the street, the Classic Guardian is the better choice, due to the pendant's much greater reach.
Of course, pendant distance doesn't mean a whole lot in the larger scheme of things. Your main concern should be that the range covers your home and yard, and the Classic Guardian will do that better than other landline units.
Design & Style
The Classic Guardian is very much a traditional medical alert system. Until recently, all medical alert systems used devices that required a landline to call for help, and for good reason — cellular networks have historically been unreliable. However, as cellular networks fill the map with consistent coverage, landlines are becoming less common. And, as smartphones develop a certain degree of ubiquity, companies are beginnig to phase out these landline-based medical alert systems.
Classic GuardianThis is why they are typically the most affordable option offered by medical alert companies. Since they don't have to connect to a cellular network like Verizon or AT&T, they cost less. The only significant difference between a landline unit and a cellular unit is the price. They both work in exactly the same way and use similar pendants.
Additional Packages to Consider
While we tested the Home Guardian, which is the midrange package, Medical Guardian also has several other packages worth considering.
The Mobile Guardian and Premium Guardian units are the company's top-tier packages, and they feature On-the-Go mobile devices for $39.95 and $49.95 a month, respectively. Both devices provide GPS-enabled mobile devices, which you can use to talk directly to emergency responders. The Premium Guardian unit uses the Numera Libris mobile device, which we tested (though via other services) and recommend, especially for its fall-detection abilities.
The Family Guardian is a unique, and relatively new, package. It is a traditional medical alert system combined with comprehensive activity monitoring that allows you to check in on your loved one through a smartphone app. For example, door sensors track when your loved one leaves his or her room, and other sensors can track when the person has moved to other rooms. The sensors tracks the individual's daily routines and can notify you if he or she isn't moving around or has deviated from a routine. This is an excellent option worth considering if your loved one has dementia or has trouble moving around.
The Emergency Response Call Center
In the process of our research, we were unable to confirm if Medical Guardian owns and operates the monitoring center, or if the company outsources those duties to an independent call center. We contacted the company several times and either never got a response or never got a straight answer. However, this is not uncommon with medical alert services — the monitoring center is really the cornerstone of the company's product, so it's only natural that the company wants you to think it is responsible for the quality of the monitoring, even if it has contracted an independent monitoring center, like Rapid Response or Legacy Security or Tunstall Americas (all large monitoring centers that work with medical alert services).
Home Guardian wrist pendantOf course, we'd prefer medical alert companies to be more up-front about this aspect of their product, but we recognize that this is a deep-rooted part of the industry. And outsourcing monitoring duties to third-party call centers doesn't mean that the quality of monitoring that your loved one will receive will be any less. It might even be better in some cases, though you can expect that the calls will be prioritized among the company's other monitoring duties, which may include security system calls.
With all of this in mind, we evaluated Medical Guardian's monitoring center as good. While the response time is just average, the call quality is excellent.
Call Response Time
Throughout our tests, we timed how long it took for an operator to answer a call from the medical alert system. With Medical Guardian, the average call response time was 65.28 seconds, which was just a few seconds above the 69.58-second average for all the services. In other words, if you need help, the call response is not much better or worse than any other medical alert system (save for GreatCall, which had an average response time of 20.67 seconds). We had several responses that rose into the 80-second range and a few that dropped to the 40-second range, but generally speaking, the call response time was just average.
Call Center Evaluation
The call quality of the monitoring center is where Medical Guardian shines. In our tests, during every interaction with the call center, we evaluated the operators for call quality. In our experience, the operators spoke clearly and at a pace that was easy to follow. They asked us to identify ourselves rather than assuming we were the person whose name appeared on the account. They confirmed that we were okay twice in every call. We never had to ask them to repeat themselves, and vice versa. Perhaps more importantly, the operators never seemed bored or spoke as if they were simply reading off a script: They sounded genuinely interested in our well-being.
The only thing the operators didn't do was indicate when they were going to disconnect the call, aside from saying “Goodbye” or “Have a good day,” which we didn't consider a direct enough indication that the call was ending. While this is a minor issue, we preferred calls where the operators told us precisely when they were ending it, because it clarified two important things: the issue of the call was satisfactory resolved, and they were no longer listening to us.
So if you're concerned about the quality of help you'll receive in an emergency, Medical Guardian is a great option, regardless of whether the company owns and operates the monitoring center or outsources it.
The Medical Alert Company
Medical Guardian is very similar to most medical alert services — it's a company that is largely based on selling a product and service that is manufactured and outsourced to other companies. As such, there is very little difference between this company and most other medical alert services.
In our cost comparison evaluation, the prices on all of Medical Guardian's packages were close to average when compared to other companies' products. The base package costs $29.99 a month, which is average. The midrange package costs $34.95, which is about $2 below average. The premium mobile device packages cost $39.95 and $49.95, respectively. Again, this is average. Customers can make annual and quarterly payments to get a bit of a discount, but this lessens the cost only by an average of $2.91 per month. Some services, like MobileHelp, provide greater discounts on bulk payments.
Customer Service, Sales & Support
Medical Guardian prides itself on its “Client Support,” which is how the company has branded the department. We never had a bad experience with the client-support representatives.
While we're not sure about its monitoring center, we do know that the company has a call center devoted to sales. But its reps never called us more than once a day, and we never felt like they were trying to push us into a sale. ’The company’s website, however, features a number of sales-funnel tactics to be aware of: an offer (for free equipment) with a countdown, a “free brochure,” a risk-assessment test, and more.
Home Guardian with pendantsWe took the risk-assessment test, for example, which requires you to provide personal information so that a “safety specialist” or third-party consultant can call you. Even when we answered all of the questions in a way that would indicate no risk — we don't live alone, 25 years old, 0 falls in the past year, 0 medical issues, 0 medications, very active with regular exercise, no need for mobility assistance — the representative still recommended that we purchase the Classic Guardian. We'd have preferred the assessment to say something like, “Congratulations! You don't need a medical alert system.”
The Final Verdict
While we'd still recommend GreatCall's base package for budget-minded seniors, Medical Guardian's Classic Guardian product is an excellent option for a landline-based medical alert system. While Medical Guardian isn't terribly different from most other medical alert systems — the packages are of average value, the call response time is average, the bulk of the company is focused on sales — the monitoring quality is outstanding. If you're leaning toward a landline unit, the company's Classic Guardian is the way to go.