The Differences Between Medical Alert Systems and Apple Watch Series 4

  • October 26, 2018
The Differences Between Medical Alert Systems and Apple Watch Series 4

In September 2018, Apple announced its newest updates and features to the Apple Watch Series 4, drawing nationwide attention from every demographic, including seniors. In an attempt to cater more of its services towards the older demographic, Apple implemented fall detection capabilities.

Medical Guardian breaks down Apple’s fall detection technology and Emergency/SOS feature, sharing the differences to Medical Guardian’s medical alert service and Apple’s emergency features.

Designed for the Older Adult

All of Medical Guardian’s medical alert systems—in-home, mobile, and wearable—are designed specifically for an older adult (aged 65+) or younger adults who have a medical condition that may require immediate medical attention. On the other hand, the Apple Watch Series 4 and other wearable fitness trackers that offer Emergency services are designed for consumers on the healthier side rather than those who already have medical issues.

Simple One-Step Call to Help

In the event of an emergency or high-stress situation, the last thing you want to feel is frustrated while trying to call for medical assistance. With Medical Guardian, Emergency/SOS is our core feature to all of our products. Through a single button press (or 3-second press on our smartwatch hi-res touchscreen) individuals can easily and immediately get the medical assistance they need—with no extra steps.

With Apple Watch Series 4, the customer needs to not only press their SOS button (which easily blends into the watch) on its side but then also (1) choose from three options including “Power Off,” “Medical ID” and “SOS” (2) either slide the “SOS” option or (3) hold the “SOS” side button for 5 seconds. In a time-sensitive medical emergency, and for those whose eyesight may not be as good as it once was, this 3-step process may be confusing, time-consuming, and difficult to navigate for older adults.

Fall Detection Capabilities

Medical Guardian offers automatic fall detection (a technology that detects falls to make sure a customer can get help even when they’re unable to press their help button) to four out of six products on its product line. Medical Guardian’s smartwatch does not include fall detection because falls are most accurately detected when the technology is worn close to the body, specifically by the breastplate, as it’s extremely sensitive. While Apple included fall detection on their Series 4 smartwatch, they publicly warned that physically active people are more likely to trigger false alarms, as its fall detection algorithms aren’t infallible.

24/7 Personalized Dispatch

When Medical Guardian’s medical alert HELP button is pressed or when a fall is detected via fall detection technology—a wireless signal will immediately be sent to Medical Guardian’s 24/7 monitoring center—connecting you with a highly trained operator that has the customer’s personal information on file. Personal information may include health information, the best way to enter into a residence (with lockbox passcode information), as well as contact information for the customer’s Care Circle (loved ones and caregivers). Whether a customer’s medical situation requires EMTs or a simple helping hand, Medical Guardian operators are trained to dispatch both emergency and non-emergency services.

UL-Certified Monitoring Center

Apple Watch Series 4’s only connection to medical assistance is directly through 911. Their service does not offer a monitoring center to evaluate a situation or offer non-emergency assistance that does not require an ambulance or emergency personnel. With Medical Guardian’s highly certified, U.S.-based monitoring center, the customer’s medical situation is evaluated, and able to dispatch the exact type of assistance they request and need. Having a monitoring center results in a decrease of false dispatch emergencies—saving emergency resources and assisting in keeping the 911-dispatch line open for EMT emergencies.

Emergency Dispatch Cancellation

It’s never been easier to cancel an emergency call with Medical Guardian’s medical alert systems. For instance, if fall detection happens to detect a false fall, the customer will have 20 seconds to cancel the alarm, by simply pressing the fall detection pendant before connecting with an operator form a monitoring center. If the customer does not cancel before 20 seconds, they can simply tell the emergency operator that it was a false alarm and assistance is not needed.

When fall detection goes off with the Apple Watch Series 4, the wearer only has 60 seconds to cancel the emergency call. After 60 seconds, the emergency call will be placed automatically, sending the wearer’s location to emergency contacts. This can be stressful and frustrating for the wearer, emergency contacts, and emergency services if the technology triggered a false alarm and medical assistance was never needed.


As Americans are living longer and the cost of long-term care continues to rise, seniors are often left outliving their financial savings. According to a 2017 Genworth Cost of Care Survey, the cost for assisted living per month is $3,750 and the average monthly cost of adult daycare (5 days/week) is $2,100, according to Medical Guardian’s medical alert systems play a significant role in keeping older adults safely and confidently in the comfort of their own homes—longer—while also providing peace of mind for their loved ones.

Medical Guardian’s medical alert smartwatch costs $99 with a $44.95/month monitoring service charge and our other devices have a free equipment charge, with a monthly monitoring service charge ranging from $29.95 to $79.95. Apple Watch Series 4 ranges from $399 to $1,499 depending on the device’s service offerings. Plus, Apple Watch Series 4 (GPS and Cellular) requires an iPhone 6 or later with iOs 12 or later, while Medical Guardian’s Freedom Guardian smartwatch is an all-in-one standalone device that includes GPS and cellular connectivity, no phone needed.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Medical Guardian is a leading provider of innovative medical alert systems that empower people to live a life without limits.

KEYWORDS: senior devices, technology, emergency features, medical alert systems, apple, apple watch, freedom guardian, fall detection, monitoring center

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