How the monitoring centers work:
Monitoring centers are essentially call centers, meaning that there are a lot of workers answering calls. Some companies own and operate their own call centers. This means the operators work for the main company. Other centers are contract centers. This means they do work for many different medical alarm companies.
The companies who own their own centers all claim this is a better way of doing business. It might be. If you can hire and fire your own operators you can ensure a level of quality control.
But it’s also possible that an owned medical alarm monitoring center might not be as good quality. If the owner decides to cut corners on staffing, equipment, or training, the fact that the monitoring center is owned is no guarantee of quality.
What problems can happen in a monitored medical alarm facility?
The call isn’t answered promptly.
This could be for a variety of reasons. Maybe there’s a freak equipment failure that prevents a call from going through. Maybe there aren’t enough operators on the job to handle the call volume.
The call is mishandled.
A mishandled call can result in personal injury, lack of care, or death. Mishandled calls come from poorly trained staff, poor procedures, or poor information systems. For example, if an operator can’t get speedy access to a patient’s medical information in order to pass it along to the EMS crew, problems can happen.
It’s very hard for a consumer to be able to judge the quality of a monitoring center’s staff or equipment
Are monitored systems worse than systems with no monthly fee?
With an unmonitored system, there’s a chance that no one will answer the emergency call. After all, you’re dialing the numbers of your children or neighbors. They may be out, in meetings, or unavailable.
There can be long delays before reaching anyone. For example, if your first three call recipients aren’t home, it could take a couple of minutes to reach someone. This could make a difference.
Poor system design could be a problem. Some medical alert systems have one-way speakerphones and other design flaws that make communication difficult.
No-fee systems depend on untrained responders. The person you reach might panic. Or their 6-year-old might pick up the phone.
There are problems with monitored systems, but there are problems with no fee systems too.