The GreatCall Lively Mobile (starting at $19.99 per month) is a portable medical alert system you take with you when you leave the house. Smaller than a book of matches, this cellular-based help button delivered the fastest response times we’ve seen from any medical alert system, and it happens to be the most affordable option we’ve tested as well. Throw in a handful of useful options such as a GPS tracking app, fall detection, and 24/7 access to a network of doctors and nurses, and you’ve got our Editors’ Choice for portable medical alert systems.
Design, Features, and Pricing
At 2.1 by 1.6 by 0.6 inches (HWD) and just 1.4 ounces, the Lively Mobile is the smallest and lightest portable help button we’ve seen. It comes in a silver or gold finish and has a clip on its top edge for attaching the included lanyard. It has an IPX7 waterproof rating (for immersion in three feet of water for up to 30 minutes) and a rechargeable lithium ion battery that is rated to last up to 36 hours before requiring a charge. The Bay Alarm Medical Mobile GPS (72 hours) and Medical Guardian Active Guardian (5 days) buttons offer better battery life. In addition to a lanyard, you get a charging cradle, a user guide, and a belt clip.
The Lively Mobile contains an embedded GPS radio and uses Verizon’s cellular service to connect you to GreatCall’s 5Star emergency response center. In the center of the device is a small call button with LED backlighting that flashes white when you have a good cellular connection and red when you’ve lost your cellular signal. Above the button is a small battery level indicator that flashes red when the battery needs charging, flashes green when charging, and turns solid green when fully charged. An embedded speaker and microphone array provides two-way communication with the emergency response center. Around back are a power button and two contacts for the charging cradle.
The Lively Mobile has a one-time device cost of $49.95, which is in line with the price of the Bay Alarm Medical Mobile GPS device ($49). There are several no-contract plans available; the $19.99 monthly plan gets you 24/7 emergency response and is the least expensive we’ve seen from any portable medical alert system. The $24.99 monthly plan adds Urgent Care, which offers 24/7 access to doctors and nurses for medical advice and prescriptions, and GreatCall Link, a service that allows family and caregivers to monitor your activities via a mobile app (Android and iOS) or a web portal.
GreatCall Link offers real-time GPS maps of your current location and a history of places that you’ve visited for the past seven days. Click on any time stamp to see a map of your location at that point, along with the closest address and any alerts if the button was pressed. Both the app and the portal can be used to create contact lists and provide medical information for emergency responders.
The $34.99 monthly plan gets you everything from the first two plans and includes fall detection and a device replacement discount. If your device is lost, broken, or stolen, GreatCall will send you a replacement for a $15 fee. At $469 per year (including the cost of the device), the Lively Mobile’s fall detection plan is more affordable than a comparable plan from Bay Alarm Medical ($514 per year) and Medical Guardian ($559 per year).
Installation and Performance
Before using the Lively Mobile for the first time, make sure it has a full charge. If you purchased it directly from GreatCall it will arrive pre-activated, but if you purchased it from a retailer you must activate it using the GreatCall website or by calling a toll-free number. Once charged and activated the device is ready to use. It’s a good idea to give it a test run before heading out on the road. When you press and hold the button for two seconds, it will vibrate and begin dialing the response center. Once connected with a live agent, let them know that you are just testing the button. They will verify your name and address and confirm clear communication with the device.
The Lively Mobile provided the fastest response times (the time it takes to connect to a live agent once the button has been pressed) of any medical alert system we’ve tested, both portable and in-home. It garnered an average time of 13 seconds compared with the Bay Alarm Medical Mobile GPS time of 59 seconds and the Medical Guardian Active Mobile time of 25 seconds. Moreover, the live agent immediately (and accurately) confirmed my GPS location within seconds, while the Bay Alarm and Medical Guardian agents required up to 30 seconds to provide that information. Audio communications were consistently loud and clean, and as was the case with every medical alert system we’ve reviewed, and response center personnel were always courteous and professional.
If you’re looking for a portable medical alert system that is reasonably priced and offers a wide range of services, the GreatCall Lively Mobile system is an excellent choice. The lightweight help button provided speedy response times in our tests, and GPS accuracy was spot-on. Granted, you’ll get longer battery life from the Bay Alarm Medical and Medical Guardian buttons, but both devices are more expensive and a bit bulkier than the Lively Mobile button, and neither offers a mobile app or the extra services that you get with the Lively Mobile. As such, it’s our Editors’ choice for portable medical alert systems. If you’re looking for an around-the-house solution, the Bay Alarm In-Home is our top pick.