High-tech medical alert systems with added health and wellness features
In the sea of medical alert systems, WellBe by HandsFree Health is making waves. Using modern technology, WellBe offers voice-enabled, secure health assistance for seniors. I couldn't wait to put on the WellBe Watch and try out the Smart Speaker to experience the system in action. To my surprise, medical alert protection is just the tip of the iceberg with WellBe. Using my voice and the company's smartphone app, WellBe helped me keep track of my prescriptions, health insurance, appointments, and more. It really is a digital health care assistant!
One downside is that WellBe's prices are slightly higher than competitors', and the devices aren't equipped with automatic fall detection. However, I've researched a fair number of the industry's top medical alert systems, and I have to say that WellBe stands out as an innovative solution to help seniors live safely in their homes. I'll get into all the details and features of WellBe below!
Purchasing the WellBe Medical Alert PLUS system required two steps. The first was actually purchasing the system and having it shipped to my home. The second was logging back on to the website and purchasing a subscription. WellBe Health doesn't offer an option to order over the phone, but the online checkout is secure and easy to navigate.
Below, I'll walk you through how I set up my WellBe system so you know what to expect.
If you purchase the WellBe Medical Alert PLUS system, I recommend setting up the Smart Speaker first. In the WellBe box, I found the power cord to plug in the device. Initially, I set it up in my basement, but don't make my mistake! I quickly found out that a basement isn't an ideal spot for WellBe. It needs to be by a window to get a strong 4G signal for calls. It will also use the cellular connection as a backup if your Wi-Fi is out.
After I plugged in the WellBe near a window, I downloaded the WellBe Virtual Assistant app from the Apple App Store to complete the setup. Once that was done, I pressed the power button on the WellBe Smart Speaker for three seconds. It took a minute to turn on; I knew it was on when the lights on the top of the speaker began flashing.
FYI: WellBe's smart speaker can be set up using Bluetooth technology. Visit our guide on Bluetooth medical alert systems to learn more about this technology!
Next, I created an account on the Virtual Assistant app. Once I made my account, I tapped “Set up Device.” The app walked me through a few simple steps to connect and register my WellBe Smart Speaker. The process took about 20 minutes.
This is a step you don't want to miss! Using the WellBe Virtual Assistant app, I was able to complete the Voice Training. This is how WellBe learned the sound of my voice. Voice Training adds another level of protection to your system. If someone tries to access health information on the speaker and WellBe doesn't recognize their voice, the person will be required to enter a four-digit PIN that you set up. That means no one will be able to access any of your personal information without your consent. I love that extra layer of security!
Pro Tip: The WellBe Smart Speaker can learn and recognize up to six household members' voices using the Voice Training feature in the Virtual Assistant app.
The training only took a couple of minutes. I just went to Settings in the app and tapped “Voice Training.” The WellBe Smart Speaker guided me through a series of prompts where I said a couple of sentences while it listened. It was simple!
In the WellBe Watch box, I found the smartwatch and a power cord. HandsFree Health recommends charging the watch fully before its first use. It connects easily with a magnetic strip on the back of the watch, and it took about 40 minutes to power up.
FYI: Both the smart speaker and the watch come with quick-start guides that provide step-by-step instructions for setup. Their instructions are also available on the WellBe website.
Once the watch was charged, I used the Virtual Assistant app to register it. In the app, I tapped “Settings,” then “Devices,” then “Add New Device.” From there, I tapped “WellBe Watch” and entered the activation code provided on the smartwatch screen, and that was it! My watch was up and running.
WellBe only offers month-to-month subscription packages. Your card will be charged for each month for service, and you can discontinue service anytime without cancellation fees. WellBe doesn't require any long-term contracts, which I am a big fan of!
WellBe offers a limited warranty on the Smart Speaker and smartwatch that begins on the date of purchase. They will replace any product that has defects in materials or workmanship; the warranty doesn't cover repairs for accidents or normal wear and tear. If you need to use this limited warranty because of a defect in the product, you'll have to pay for shipping and handling charges.
|WellBe product||Equipment fee||Subscription price||Features||Type of system||Best for|
|WellBe Smart Speaker||$189||No subscription needed||
||In-home smart speaker||Seniors looking for health care assistance|
|WellBe Watch||$179.95||$34.95 per month||
||On-the-go medical alert system||Seniors who want on-the-go medical alert protection|
|WellBe Medical Alert PLUS||$149.95||$34.95 per month||
||In-home speaker and on-the-go medical alert system||Seniors wanting both on-the-go protection and the Smart Speaker to keep track of medications, appointments, etc.|
WellBe's system lineup is pretty simple. They offer the WellBe Smart Speaker for $189 and the WellBe Watch for $119.95. You can purchase the two devices separately or bundle them together for a discounted rate. For the best protection, I recommend the WellBe Medical Alert PLUS package, which includes both the Smart Speaker and Watch. As I've mentioned, WellBe's systems are a bit pricier than options from other providers we've reviewed, including Medical Guardian; however, their unique, high-tech features and modern look make them worth the cost in our book. Let's get into the details of each product below!
The WellBe Smart Speaker can be purchased for $189. Unlike most medical alert systems, it does not require a monthly subscription fee. You will also pay a shipping fee at checkout.
The WellBe Smart Speaker is a voice-enabled virtual health assistant with medical alert capabilities. The Smart Speaker has an emergency response button you can press, or you can say, “OK, WellBe Emergency” to be connected to emergency services. If you're not in range of the speaker or not inside your home, this will not provide comprehensive protection like the smartwatch will. If you're looking for optimal medical alert coverage, you'll want to add on the WellBe Watch, which provides 24/7 on-the-go medical alert protection.
I was impressed to see that the buttons on top of the WellBe Smart Speaker were written in Braille, making it accessible to older adults with low vision. The speaker is loud and clear, which is great if you have hearing loss. There are adjustable volume settings on the top, including a mute button. I pressed the mute button when guests were in the home so WellBe wouldn't speak while I was entertaining.
The WellBe Smart Speaker uses your existing Wi-Fi connection to provide service. No worries if your Wi-Fi goes out, though; it can use 4G to make calls and connect you to an emergency response operator. In fact, I tested the emergency response button on the Smart Speaker, and I was connected to an operator in 25 seconds. That's pretty good! For comparison, the average response time for medical alert systems across the industry is 15 to 45 seconds.
The smartwatch costs $119.95 and requires a $29.95 monthly subscription fee. The equipment fee is less expensive than the Bay Alarm Medical's prices for their SOS Smartwatch, but the monthly service fee is the same. Keep in mind that the WellBe Watch monitors your heart rate, which is a feature the SOS Smartwatch does not have.
This sleek smartwatch has a 24-hour battery life and is water-resistant. You can wear it in the shower or while you water the garden! Equipped with a two-way speaker, the WellBe Watch can connect you to an operator when you press the help button, no matter where you are.
When I tested out the watch, I found two things a little disappointing. First, it's big. I have a small wrist, and the device felt heavy. If you have an average-sized wrist, this won't be a problem for you. Second, the watch doesn't sync with the WellBe Smart Speaker. One time, when the Smart Speaker reminded me to take my medication, I wasn't within earshot of the speaker, so I didn't hear the reminder. In this case, I would have liked to also receive a notification on the smartwatch. However, if you are OK with using the two devices separately or only plan to purchase one of them, this shouldn't be an issue.
Powered by 4G cellular service, the WellBe Watch provides on-the-go protection, so it is great for active seniors. The watch uses GPS tracking to quickly identify your location and send emergency services your way if the emergency help button is pressed. I was impressed with the advanced activity monitoring of the WellBe Watch. It tracked my heart rate and steps. The WellBe Watch doesn't come with automatic fall detection, though, which is a feature of many popular providers we've reviewed, like Lively.
Keep in Mind: After extensive research, HandsFree Health decided automatic fall detection on the WellBe Watch would set off too many false alarms, delivering an unsatisfactory user experience. If you're looking for automatic fall detection, check out our list of the best medical alert systems with fall detection.
I tested the smartwatch's emergency response button and was quickly connected to a friendly operator named Tamisha. I could hear her perfectly, and she could hear me. Speaking to a wristwatch was a new experience! But it was comforting to know that the watch could connect me to emergency services if I was somewhere I couldn't reach my cell phone (like the shower) or away from the WellBe Smart Speaker.
In the U.S., 1 in 4 people admit they have avoided seeking medical care because they were unsure what their health plan covered.1 WellBe clears up the confusion when you ask the speaker simple questions about your health care coverage, prescriptions, and more.
These are some questions I asked WellBe:
In addition to having a wealth of health care knowledge, WellBe reminded me to take my morning and evening medications. The Smart Speaker even asked me to confirm I had taken my medication by replying “yes” or “no.” If I said no, WellBe reminded me again in 30 minutes to take my medication. Since nearly 90 percent of older adults take at least one prescription medication, this is an excellent feature for seniors.2
The WellBe Smart Speaker keeps families in the know by notifying selected contacts by text message if a medication dose or appointment is missed. The speaker also reminds you when it is time to refill your prescription and will even call the pharmacy for you! Since it has two-way communication, calls like these are possible through the WellBe Smart Speaker.
Over half of people who own smart speakers are concerned about the information smart speakers collect.3 But you don't have to worry with WellBe. From my experience working in a health care setting, I know the importance of HIPAA compliance. The protection of your personal health and medical information is imperative. That's why I was pleased to read that WellBe operates on a safe, secure, and HIPAA-compliant platform, which means your personal information stays private and secure.
FYI: Multiple people in your household can use WellBe. The speaker uses voice recognition and different colors of lights to customize reminders and alerts for up to six family members. You can add household members on the Virtual Assistant app.
In addition to its medication reminders, answers to health questions, and health insurance insights, I found WellBe has a fun side! The Smart Speaker played music or audiobooks and updated me on the news and weather when I asked. All I had to do was say, “OK, WellBe, play jazz music,” and my living room was filled with the smooth sound of the sax and trumpet.
The WellBe Virtual Assistant app is the glue that holds it all together. The app is necessary to set up the WellBe Smart Speaker and WellBe Watch. You can download it on any Apple or Android device; I downloaded it on my iPhone. If you're a tech-loving senior, you can get the app and use it to input all your information and set up your WellBe devices. If you don't have a smartphone, no worries! A loved one can download the WellBe Virtual Assistant app from anywhere and do the setup for you with WellBe's Universal Registration.
I input my medications, medical insurance info, providers, pharmacies, medical history, emergency contacts, and more in the app. It does take some time to input all of this information, but providing it in the secure app helped me get the full benefits of WellBe. Additionally, the app sent me notifications when it was time for an appointment or to take my medication.
Entering the information was easy. I filled out how many pills I had left so WellBe could remind me when it was time for a refill. If you're like me, you tend to forget when you're about to run out, making this a handy feature. Of course, it is your choice what information to share with WellBe. As I mentioned, though, it does help you get the most out of your WellBe devices.
Overall, I found WellBe by HandsFree Health to be one of the most modern medical alert systems on the market. Though the device fees and monthly subscriptions can get pricey, the company provides more than just medical alert protection, which is valuable and worth the extra dollars, in my opinion. I am a big fan of WellBe's secure access to important health information, comprehensive medical reminders, and voice-enabled features. As long as you're not looking for automatic fall detection, a WellBe system can provide you with in-home and on-the-go medical alert protection, as well as a wealth of health care knowledge and medical reminders.
No. WellBe only listens when it hears the words “OK, WellBe.” It keeps your health information safe and secure on a HIPAA-compliant platform.
During the initial setup, WellBe will prompt you to complete a voice training session. This allows WellBe to learn your voice, so it will only give access when it recognizes your voice. If anyone besides you is asking WellBe for personal health information, they will need to enter a four-digit PIN.
Yes. To make a call to someone, though, you’ll need to add them to the contacts list in the WellBe Virtual Assistant app.
It depends on how much information you will be putting into the WellBe Virtual Assistant app, but typically, the process should not take longer than 20 minutes.
No, the WellBe Watch does not include automatic fall detection.
Depending on your usage of the watch, the battery lasts about 24 hours.
PR Newswire. (2019). Health insurance confusion is growing in America, Policygenius annual survey finds.
KFF. (2019). Data Note: Prescription Drugs and Older Adults.
Pew Research Center. (2019). 5 things to know about Americans and their smart speakers.