With roots reaching back to the early 1970s, Philips LifeLine is America’s first and most-established medical alert brand. We’ve reviewed their offers before, but their lineup of alerts has recently changed. So we’re going to share our latest hands-on testing results of Philips LifeLine, along with everything you need to know about their devices, features, prices, and more.
We found that LifeLine isn’t the cheapest option out there. But we were pleased to learn their call centers boast an average response time of 12 seconds1 (incredibly fast!). Every second can feel like an eternity during a crisis, so time is of the essence. That said, there are a few weaknesses that you should know about, too. Don’t worry, we’re going to explore these popular in-home and mobile alert systems in-depth. So let’s hop to it!
LifeLine is America’s very first medical alert company. It dates back to 1972 when the idea of wearable emergency buttons occurred to Dr. Andrew Dibner, a psychology professor focused on gerontology.2 He founded LifeLine with his wife Susan Dibner. At first, LifeLine worked exclusively with hospitals, which monitored the buttons themselves. Then, in the early 1980s, the company expanded to add in-home service and its own call centers.
In the early days, the Dibners’ won a grant from the National Center for Health Services Research to test their first system with the public. Results suggested that the buttons significantly reduced the chance of a person needing a nursing home (success!). Later, in 2006, LifeLine was acquired by Royal Philips, a well-known manufacturer of alarms and other household electronics. And over the years more than 7.5 million people have subscribed to LifeLine for emergency alert coverage.3
We found it pretty easy to order from Philips online. Other medical alert brands can be confusing with too many products to choose from. But Philips LifeLine only offers three alert systems, which are all listed on the homepage. They also have a neat “Compare Products” feature that helped us find the right fit.
Checkout was fairly smooth… until it wasn’t. We were disappointed to learn that each in-home system requires a $19.95 “self-installation” fee. It just didn’t feel right having to pay for DIY installation — and it’s not something we’re used to seeing. Also, the portable GoSafe 2 device was on backorder for six to eight weeks. Not fun!
FYI: Installing almost any medical alert system is simple. The top alert companies offer easy DIY installation and plug-and-play setup.
Our home-only alert system showed up in a few days, while GoSafe 2 arrived several weeks later. Installing the systems took only a few minutes. First, we set up HomeSafe with AutoAlert (AutoAlert is Philips LifeLine fall detection feature). This involved plugging the Communicator base station into a wall outlet, then checking the signal bar to make sure the cellular connection to LifeLine was strong. We had it up-and-running in a jiffy.
As we went about our daily life wearing the home pendant, an orange light showed that it was connected to the Communicator. We experienced clear signaling, but it’s important to note that the maximum range from the base station is relatively short at 600 feet. We like to see 1,000 ft. or more for in-home alerts, like the 1,400 ft. range MobileHelp offers. The longer the range the better — that way you can exercise your green thumb while gardening in the backyard, check your mailbox with a pep in your step, and remain safe no matter where you are at home.
As for setting up GoSafe 2, the button arrived charged and ready to use. It really couldn’t have been easier to set up. And we were able to make a test call from just about anywhere.
Did You Know: Philips connects their cellular systems to the AT&T 4G network, which is strong throughout most of the continental US, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. But if you live in Alaska, we’d check the coverage map before choosing a cellular alert system.
Medical alert buttons are just about foolproof. We ordered the Philips LifeLine in-home button on a lanyard. When we pressed the button, the alert instantly pinged the monitoring center, which then reached out to us pretty quickly. And the Communicator itself has an emergency call button. Whichever button is pressed, two-way voice communication is accessible through the Communicator’s built-in speaker. Their mobile app, which is called Philips Cares, is also straightforward and one of the better apps that we’ve tested.
Away from home, we were able to call for help from anywhere the GoSafe 2 gets a cell signal (which is pretty much everywhere). A microphone and speaker are built into the pendant itself. We found the GoSafe 2 fairly easy to use, but not as easy as Medical Guardian mobile alert systems.
At first, we were surprised to learn that the in-home wearables won a Best Design award;4 but then we tried them out for ourselves. It didn’t exactly blow us away, but we did like how the buttons are small and lightweight. In fact, they offer one of the most low-profile designs in the industry. We just wish they had a longer range.
Using LifeLine’s GoSafe 2 was somewhat more convenient than using on-the-go buttons from other brands we’ve tested. First, you won’t need to keep a portable base station nearby. And also, the pendant stays charged for up to a week, whereas many alternatives need daily power-ups. In other words, it brings the juice when you need it most.
Emergency monitoring is one of LifeLine’s biggest strengths. While popular competitors are proud to offer 20-second response times, LifeLine fields calls within 12 seconds on average. So needless to say, we felt safe and secure while wearing the devices.
It’s also worth noting that LifeLine operates two call centers in the US and one in Canada. We call this “redundant monitoring,” which ensures we can receive immediate help even if a disaster strikes a whole region and takes out a monitoring center.
We also like how LifeLine monitoring is personalized. In your account profile, you can list numbers for emergency operators to call before, after, or instead of paramedics. Also, if English isn’t your mother tongue, you can specify your language preference for emergency communications. Génial!
Good To Know: Each LifeLine dispatcher has at least 80 hours of training in stress management and gerontology. And the average tenure of a LifeLine employee is seven years.
The company holds an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, where it’s been accredited since 2002.5 For non-emergency customer service, LifeLine has phone lines open from 8 am to 8:30 pm EST Monday through Friday. On Saturdays, they’re open from 10 to 4pm. In our opinion, there’s definitely room for improvement here. Overall, Philips LifeLine customer service is on par with other brands like One Call Alert, but we wouldn’t say it’s great.
LifeLine’s three-part lineup is easy to understand. Their best medical alert system for active seniors is GoSafe 2; it works anywhere that you can catch a cellular signal. For in-home protection, you can choose from HomeSafe and HomeSafe with AutoAlert. Again, AutoAlert is LifeLine’s fall detection technology.
One quick look at the pricing below, and you’ll see that Philips Lifeline isn’t exactly cheap. In fact, it’s one of the more expensive systems we’ve tried. For some folks, this won’t be a big deal. But we understand that many seniors live on a fixed income and a tight budget. So if that’s you, you might want to look into Bay Alarm Medical alerts instead.
|HomeSafe Standard||HomeSafe with Autoalert||GoSafe 2|
|Monthly Cost||$29.95 and up||$44.95 and up||$49.95 and up|
|One-Time Fees||$50 activation, $19.95 self-installation||$50 activation, $19.95 self-installation||$99.95 device, $19.95 self-installation|
|Coverage Location||Home only||Home only||Home and away|
|Wearable Type||Pendant or wristband||Pendant||Pendant|
|Fall Detection Available||✖||✔||✔|
|Voice In Pendant||✖||✖||✔|
|Connection Type||Landline or Cellular||Landline or Cellular||Cellular|
This is LifeLine’s most affordable in-home alert system. Its plug-in Communicator base station looks like a smart home speaker, and it connects with a wearable button. Monitoring is cheapest if you have a landline; the rate is $29.95 per month. Otherwise, you’ll get a cellular Communicator that costs $43.95 to monitor month-to-month. Features include:
HomeSafe with AutoAlert is almost identical to the standard system above, but it’s enhanced with fall detection. Monitoring costs $44.95 per month with a landline and $58.95 per month for cellular service. We did the math, and Philips basically charges $15 per month for fall detection, which is more expensive than the industry average of $10 per month. So that’s something to keep in mind. Features include:
LifeLine’s most popular system is GoSafe 2. Note that the original GoSafe has been discontinued since our last round of LifeLine research and testing.
GoSafe 2 is Philip’s on-the-go medical alert system using cellular monitoring. A big selling point is the all-in-one design, as some other brands require mobile base stations. Another benefit with GoSafe 2 is Advanced GPS (A-GPS), which can supposedly track your location faster than average GPS tracking features. The GoSafe 2 device sells for $99.95, and the button can be monitored for $49.95 per month. Features include:
FYI: Compared with most competitors, LifeLine uses more technologies to pinpoint location. These include Advanced GPS, WiFi, location breadcrumbs, and an audio beacon.
A lock box can securely store a house key. LifeLine can share the lock code with emergency responders so that they can avoid forcible home entry. Lock boxes sell for $29.95 each.
The Philips Medication Dispenser is a small appliance designed to help people avoid medication errors. It can automatically release medication at preset times. Each dose is served in a small cup. Service is $59.95 per month.
Philips Cares is a free mobile app. It makes monthly LifeLine payments convenient, and, with the subscriber’s permission, it gives caregivers access to emergency alerts, the Medication Dispenser log, note sharing, and more.
Overall, we like Philips LifeLine for on-the-go service. Their GoSafe 2 option has the advantage of being an all-in-one system with built-in two-way talk, whereas many other GPS pendants require a mobile base unit for service and two-way communication. We also like how no long-term contract is required.
However, for in-home emergency backup, we’re a little less enthused. The systems’ maximum range is pretty short compared to the competition. As we mentioned though, Philips LifeLine offers one of the fastest average response times we’ve seen. So if your home isn’t sprawling, and you can afford to spend a bit extra, then LifeLine might be your best home medical alert solution. But all things considered, we’d recommend exploring out top options that are more affordable and functional.
Philips LifeLine. (Accessed 2020, May 7). Our Response Center.
Justia. (Accessed 2020, May 6). Patents by Inventor Andrew S. Dibner.
Philips LifeLine. (Accessed 2020, May 7). About Philips LifeLine.
The Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Art and Design. (2014, December 12). Philips Lifeline GoSafe, HomeSafe Emergency Help Communicators.
Philips LifeLine: Better Business Bureau® Profile. (Accessed 2020, May 7). BBB.