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 set up the Smart Speaker to experience the system in action.
Well, as it turns out, providing 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 healthcare assistant!
One downside is that WellBe's prices are a bit higher than competitors, and the provider has no automatic fall detection. However, I’ve researched a fair amount of the industry’s top medical alert systems, and I have to say, 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!
WellBe's system lineup is pretty simple. They offer the WellBe Smart Speaker for $189 and the WellBe Watch for $179.95. 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 like 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 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,” and you'll be connected to emergency services. But, if you're not in range of the speaker or not inside your home, this will not provide you with 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 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. We'll take a closer look at the Smart Speaker's features below.
Health care is more confusing than ever. In America, 1 in 4 people admit they have avoided seeking medical care because they were unsure what their plan covered.1 WellBe clears up the confusion when you ask simple questions about your health care coverage, prescriptions, and more.
Using the WellBe Virtual Assistant app on your smartphone, you or a loved one can input your medications, appointments, reminders, and even your health insurance information (more on that below). Once that is done, you can say, “OK, WellBe, when is my next appointment?” WellBe will reply with the answer!
Some questions I asked WellBe were:
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 if I had indeed taken my medication or not 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 also keeps families in the know by notifying selected contacts via a text message if a medication dose or appointment is missed. The speaker also reminds you when it is time to get your prescription refilled 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 with WellBe, you don't have to be worried. With former experience working in a health care setting, I know the importance of HIPAA compliance. Keeping your personal health and medical information protected is imperative. That's why I was pleased to read that WellBe operates on a safe and secure platform that is HIPAA compliant, which means your personal information is kept private and secure.
Besides medication reminders, answering health questions, and health insurance insights, I found WellBe has a fun side, too! The Smart Speaker played music, audiobooks and updated me on the latest news and weather when I asked for it. 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.
FYI: Multiple people in your household can use WellBe. The speaker uses voice recognition and different colored lights to customize reminders and alerts for up to six family members. You can add household members on the Virtual Assistant app.
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 Watch provides seniors with on-the-go emergency alert protection. Powered by 4G cellular service, the WellBe Watch uses GPS tracking to quickly locate you and send emergency services your way once you press the emergency button. You can wear it in your home and while you're out and about. The smartwatch costs $179.95 and requires a $34.95 a month subscription fee. The equipment fee is right in line with Bay Alarm Medical’s SOS Watch, but the monthly service is about $10 more per month. Keep in mind, the WellBe Watch monitors your heart rate, which is a feature the SOS watch does not have.
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 was capable of connecting me to emergency services if I was somewhere that I couldn't reach my cell phone (like the shower) or away from the WellBe Smart Speaker.
Two things were a little disappointing about the watch. First, it's big. I have a small wrist, and the device felt heavy. If you have an average-sized wrist, this may not be an issue for you. Second, the watch doesn't sync with the WellBe Smart Speaker. For example, 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 have also received a notification via the smartwatch. However, if you're OK with using the two devices separately or only plan to purchase one of them, this shouldn't be an issue!
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 fall detection is something you're looking for, check our list of some of the best systems with fall detection.
|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||$199.95||$44.95 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.|
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 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 time to take my medication.
Entering the information was easy. When inputting my medication information, 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 and forget when you’re about to run out, this is a handy feature! Of course, it is your choice what information you choose to share with WellBe. But, as I mentioned, it does help you get the most out of your WellBe devices.
Now that we've covered all of the device features, how do you purchase a system and get everything set up? Let's take a look.
Purchasing the WellBe Medical Alert PLUS system required two steps. The first included actually purchasing the system and having it shipped to my home. The second was logging back onto the website and purchasing a subscription. WellBe Health doesn't have an option to order over the phone, but they offer a secure, easy-to-navigate online checkout.
WellBe only offers month-to-month subscription packages. Your card will be charged for each month for service, and you can cancel anytime without facing any cancellation fees. They also don'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 the date of purchase. They will replace any product due to 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 due to a defect in the product, you'll be required to pay for shipping and handling charges.
Below, I'll walk you through the setup process of the WellBe systems, so you know what to expect.
If you purchased the WellBe Medical Alert PLUS system as I did, I recommend setting up the Smart Speaker first. In the WellBe box, you'll find a power cord to plug in the device. Initially, I set it up in my basement, but I quickly found out that this wasn't an ideal spot for WellBe. It needs to be by a window to get a strong 4G signal to make calls. It will also use the cellular connection as a backup if your Wi-Fi is out.
After I plugged in 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 began flashing on the top of the speaker.
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 just took about 20 minutes.
This is an important step you don't want to miss! Using the WellBe Virtual Assistant app, I was able to complete the “Voice Training.” This is where WellBe learned the sound of my voice. Voice Training offers an added 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 consent.
Quick Tip: The WellBe Smart Speaker can learn and recognize up to six household member 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 watch came with quick-start guides that provided step-by-step instructions for set up. They also have their instructions 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.
I scoured the WellBe website, but I could not find a phone number to call customer support. If you're looking for technical support from WellBe, you'll have to settle for their chat box or online form. I sent some questions to WellBe regarding their subscription model and how I would be charged for the monthly subscription. They got back to me within 24 hours, letting me know that they offer a month-to-month subscription option, and I can cancel anytime without facing any penalties. Yay, good news!
Overall, I found WellBe by HandsFree Health to be one of the most modern medical alert systems on the market. Though their device fees and monthly subscriptions are on the pricier side, the company provides much more than just medical alert protection, so it is worth the extra dollars, in my opinion. I am a big fan of WellBe's secure access to important health information, the comprehensive medical reminders, and the 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 and 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! Though, to make a call to a contact, 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 inputting 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 the usage of your 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.