Reliable systems with advanced activity and compliance monitoring
With 85 percent of seniors suffering from at least one chronic health condition, it's normal for families to feel anxious about their loved one's safety. Thankfully, companies like QMedic offer at-home and on-the-go medical alert systems that can offer peace of mind for you and your caregivers and family members. Founded in 2010 by two MIT scientists with a background in health tech, QMedic has been providing high-tech, reliable monitoring to older adults for a decade.
What sets QMedic apart is the straightforward equipment choices, free spousal monitoring, and 24/7 activity and compliance tracking. I wanted to check out these features for myself, so I tested out QMedic's Cellular Medical Alert System and the Mobile GPS Medical Alert System. From setting up your system to pricing, read on to learn more about my experience with QMedic.
Now that you've seen a snapshot of QMedic, let's dive into my experience with the company!
When I started researching QMedic, I hopped on their website and found it easy to navigate. An “ORDER QMEDIC” button at the top of every page takes you right to their product information pages and guides you through the ordering process. If you have any questions, the site has a chat window that lets you submit a message and your email address.
I sent a message asking if QMedic offers spouse monitoring, since nearly 60 percent of all older adults aging in place live with a partner.2 A representative named Rebecca responded within a few hours. She told me that you could add an extra help button to the in-home system at no additional charge. Many companies we’ve reviewed, like Lifeline, charge an extra fee for spouse monitoring or require couples to purchase two separate systems, so I was very pleased with QMedic's free option. However, Rebecca let me know that I would need to buy two separate systems if I wanted the most accurate activity tracking possible.
Buyer's Tip: When you buy online, you can leave special instructions with your order. This is where you can request a second help button for your partner.
Later, I hopped on a call with QMedic to find out if the company offers add-on equipment for any of their packages. Jill, the representative I spoke with, let me know that QMedic doesn't currently offer any extra equipment or features, because the company wants to keep things simple for older adults. I couldn't disagree with that!
After getting all of my questions answered, I settled on purchasing both the Cellular Medical Alert System and the Mobile GPS system to get a feel for QMedic's in-home and on-the-go options.
When my package arrived (thank you, free shipping!), it came with the cellular base unit, a wearable help wristband, the mobile GPS unit on a necklace, and a charging cradle.
I started by placing the mobile GPS unit on its charger to get it fully powered up. A light on the unit lit up to show me it was charging. A full charge took a few hours, which isn't long at all, considering the battery lasts for 14 days.
Then, all I had to do was put the unit around my neck (with the strap provided) and press the black help button with an outline of a phone on it. After that, I was connected to the monitoring center and let the operator know I was running a test. He told me that everything was working properly, and that was it!
While my Mobile GPS unit charged, I set up the at-home system by plugging the base unit into a power outlet. I made sure to choose an outlet that was centrally located in my home to get the most out of the system's 500- to 1,000-foot range. The help button on the top of the base unit turned green, indicating it was on. I then put on my pendant and made a test call with it by pressing the purple button.
Setup Tip: Install the base station in a central location where you spend most of your time. Why? Because then it (and its two-way speaker) is close by should you experience an emergency and need to communicate with an operator.
After a few seconds, the base station started beeping, and I was connected to the 24/7 monitoring station in about 30 seconds. A live operator asked if I needed help, and I used the two-way speaker to let them know I was running a test.
Rebecca informed me that since all of QMedic's equipment is leased, there isn't an official product warranty. However, if equipment breaks or malfunctions for any reason other than deliberate damage, QMedic replaces it for free. Subscribers can even request a free replacement if they lose their in-home wearable button.
QMedic also offers a 30-day, money-back guarantee. So if you're unhappy with the system for any reason, you can return it without penalty within 30 days. QMedic will even pay for the shipping.
However, if you want to cancel your service after 30 days, you will not receive a refund, because QMedic locks you into a one-year contract. Other companies we’ve reviewed, including Alert1, offer prorated refunds for customers who cancel mid-plan.
|QMedic product||Price||Coverage range||Features||Battery life||Built for|
|Cellular Medical Alert System||$300 per year||500-1,000 feet||
||Help button: 2 years
Hub: 24-hour backup battery
|Mobile GPS Medical Alert System||$400 per year||Unlimited||
||14-day battery life||On-the-go use|
FYI: As of Jan 1, 2021, new private pay customers can only purchase annual subscriptions. Only existing users or individuals referred by a managed care organization or AAA partner can choose a monthly subscription.
QMedic's Cellular Medical Alert System costs $300 with an annual subscription. That breaks down to $25 per month, so QMedic's prices are affordable compared to the competition. With QMedic, you aren't purchasing the equipment. Instead, it's considered a lease for the duration of your subscription. You won't face any other fees, except replacement costs if you need to replace the base unit, necklace, wristband, etc. Even shipping is free!
This system comes with two components: the wearable help button and the base station. You can choose whether you'd like to wear the button as a necklace or a wristband at the time of purchase. Either way, the button is waterproof. It also features a two-year battery life, so you won't need to remember to recharge it!
From the Experts: QMedic's alert systems have an average response time of 30 seconds, which falls right in the middle of the industry average (15 to 45 seconds).
The base station has a two-way speaker to communicate directly with QMedic's monitoring center. Its coverage ranges from 500 to 1,000 feet, depending on your home's setup. QMedic suggests that it can cover most one- to two-bedroom homes and yards. If that sounds like the size of your home and you're a homebody, I'd recommend this QMedic system for you. I tested the system throughout my home and was able to connect to the monitoring center, no problem.
Just as you'd find with other medical alert companies we’ve reviewed, such as Bay Alarm Medical, QMedic's at-home system comes backed by a 24/7 UL-listed monitoring center. When you press your help button, the operator will either dispatch emergency services or call your primary contact. The system uses AT&T's network to communicate, so you don't need a landline.
Another thing worth noting is that QMedic doesn't offer fall detection. The company feels that fall-detection devices lead to many false alarms. According to QMedic, these can cause panic and discourage consistent use. Instead, QMedic focuses on activity tracking to support a user's well-being.
Did You Know: QMedic communicates with customers who speak many different languages through a real-time phone translation service. QMedic also has bilingual employees on staff who speak English, Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Arabic.
Caregivers can log in to an online dashboard or through the QMedic app to view 24/7 data on their loved one's sleep and their compliance with wearing the system. The app breaks down the wearer's day by their location and time spent being sedentary, not wearing their system, sleeping, and performing light or vigorous activity. This information is displayed in charts that compare each day's activity to the user's average activity. You can also add information about the wearer's nutrition and medical conditions for the most well-rounded profile possible. QMedic offers the most comprehensive activity tracking I've seen, so I was impressed with the caregiver dashboard.
QMedic's on-the-go system costs $400 for an annual subscription, making it $100 more expensive than the at-home system. You won't face any additional fees or costs unless you need to replace any equipment. Plus, shipping is free.
The Mobile GPS system includes a mobile unit and a charging cradle. Worn as a necklace, the mobile unit can be taken anywhere, making it an excellent choice for active seniors who spend time outside the home. Don't take it in the shower, though; it's only rated as water-resistant for wear in the rain. Its rechargeable battery lasts 14 days on a single charge. In our MobileHelp review and LifeStation review, we found that comparable Mobile GPS units last anywhere from one to five days, so QMedic's battery life is solid.
Did You Know: QMedic made our list as a best medical alert system for their activity monitoring and simple, reliable systems.
By default, the mobile GPS unit runs on Verizon's network. If you'd prefer AT&T, you'll need to request it. Choose the network that has the best coverage in the places where you spend most of your time. As long as you're in a service area with your charged mobile unit, you're covered. The system's built-in GPS technology lets the monitoring center identify your exact location, so help will be sent straight to you during an emergency, even if you don't know where you are.
QMedic’s in-home system costs $300 per year, while their Mobile GPS unit costs $400 per year. You will need to pay for the year upfront, but to help you compare it to other medical alert companies that offer monthly payment plans, it comes out to $25 and $33.33 per month, respectively.
If you are unhappy with your QMedic system, you can return it at any time. QMedic will even provide a return label for complimentary return shipping. However, you will not receive a refund if you return the system after the first 30 days.
All new QMedic subscribers must purchase an annual subscription, which is akin to a one-year contract. You can cancel your subscription at any time, but you will not receive a refund unless you cancel within the first 30 days.
No, you don’t need your own cell phone to use a cellular QMedic system. QMedic’s equipment comes with a built-in SIM card that allows it to connect to AT&T’s cellular network. As long as you have reliable AT&T coverage in your area, you’ll be set.