Traditional medical alert units, often worn by seniors around their neck or wrist to call for help in case of a fall or other adverse event, were designed to communicate by way of POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service). After placing a telephone call, the emergency unit sends information from the home to the monitoring center to determine which emergency unit is calling and what type of help is needed. When consumers switch to digital phone service, the data can be distorted or omitted as the bandwidth of the internet service provider fluctuates
, resulting in missed or inaccurate emergency reporting at the monitoring center.
In recent months, a growing number of seniors have switched from traditional phone service to bundled packages in order to save money on the service. For many seniors living on fixed incomes, the monthly savings have come just in time to offset rising gas prices and other healthcare costs. However, the switch may come at a much higher price if emergency help is not available when someone needs it most. “The biggest problem is that consumers are switching to VOIP service, and without knowing it, they have significantly reduced the reliability of a device designed to help them remain safe and independent,” says Andy Schoonover, President of Valued Relationships Inc., a leading medical alert provider. “Many medical alert providers have no way of knowing the change has occurred until something goes awry.” Unfortunately, some medical alert providers have taken the strategy of telling customers that traditional solutions will work, even when they are not reliable and could fail at any time. Similar problems exist for home security systems, so if you have non-traditional phone service, you should check with your security company to ensure that your service will remain operational.
has recently announced a new solution for medical alert units used with VOIP. In response to the growing number of seniors switching to VOIP service, VRI has introduced “DIGICARE”. DIGICARE is a VOIP compatible PERS unit that leverages proprietary hardware and software changes in the company’s CSAA 5 Diamond Certified Medical Alert Monitoring Center to receive both emergency and maintenance calls from medical alert units without the risk of interference or data loss from VOIP bandwidth issues. “This is a significant accomplishment for our team,” says Mr. Schoonover. “We committed to providing a cost-effective, reliable option for seniors with VOIP service, and are excited to announce that we have made that commitment a reality.” To the company’s knowledge, it is the only solution currently available in the medical alert industry to address VOIP issues.