How to use your Amazon Alexa as a Medical Alert System

Photo of Amazon echo dot with Alexa by Piotr Cichosz on Unsplash
(Image credit: Photo by Piotr Cichosz on Unsplash)

Sometimes in an emergency, you just can’t reach your phone. That’s why using Alexa and setting up the smart assistant to trigger life alerts is useful for fall detection. 

When you adjust your settings, you can make it so that all you need to do is shout “Alexa, ask my buddy to send help” to communicate to your emergency contacts that you need urgent attention. In this article we'll be covering how to use your Amazon Alexa as a medical alert system

All you need is the Alexa Echo and a cell phone or smartwatch to download the SOS My Family app. Then you can use your Amazon Echo medical alert.

Like using your Apple watch as a medical alert device, Amazon's Alexa was not built to be the best medical alert system in the industry but it can certainly help you with the basics. 

Amazon's Alexa is credited with saving lives

I would have been lying there for hours if it wasn’t for Alexa, I don’t know how I would have summoned up help [...] My Alexa saved my life.

Dante McNulty via New York Post

More than just a friendly voice, Amazon's voice assistant Alexa is reported to help save lives by Amazon customers and Amazon employees around the world. One Amazon employee recounts how Alexa helped save her life after fatal bee stings:  

"Thankfully my husband called 911 from his work phone, and he simultaneously dropped in on our Echo Show device from the Alexa app on his personal cellphone to remotely communicate with our son. 

With Alexa, he told our son to go to the neighbor’s house, and immediately get someone to assist. Via our Echo Show’s camera, my husband could visually see our son and neighbor come running back into the house, approaching me on the kitchen floor."

How to set up the Amazon Echo and activate Alexa

The Amazon Echo is a hands-free, voice-controlled speaker. Alexa will play music, tell you the weather, time, and much more. The Echo can trigger a life alert using the My SOS Family app. But first, let's start with how to set up your Echo speaker:

1. Download and install the Alexa app on your smartwatch or cell phone. 

You’ll find the app on the Google Play Store for an android device, or the Apple Store.

2. In the app, look for the 3 lines and select more then Add Device.

3. You’ll see Echo, Echo Dot Plus and More. Find your Amazon Echo and click into it.

4. Plug in your Echo. 

When you can see an orange dot the device is setup.

5. Look for the echo dot on your phone and click into it, then head to Settings.

6. Select your Wi-Fi network then choose the room where your Alexa speaker is located.

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Using the My SOS Family app as a medical alert system on the Amazon Echo

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If you like this article, you may be interested in a round-up of the top medical alert smartwatches you can buy today.

What is My SOS Family app and how can it help me stay safe??

The My SOS Family app is a user-friendly life alert system which allows you to share your location and tell family and friends you're safe, or need medical attention. Note that you need to buy a subscription to use the app. You can directly call or message them through the app in an emergency, or simply check-in to say you're ok. 

You might be thinking: I already have those functions on my phone, so what's unique about the app? Well, here's why we love My SOS Family app as a medical alert system: 

How much does the app cost?

- Monthly subscription: $3.49 / month (US), £3.49 (GB)
- Annual subscription: $33.99 / year (US), £33.99 (GB)

Allows you to pre-define emergency contacts 

Each emergency contact is automatically messaged AND called when you instruct the app to do so. 

Each life alert includes GPS location

When the app sends a message and calls your emergency contacts, it will also tell them where you are. 

Cloud-based SOS Countdown Timer

The timer is a nifty feature which can be pre-set to go off at intervals by you or your caregiver. This is especially helpful if you're active person and want to regularly let your family know you're ok without interrupting your lifestyle. 

Easy to use 

The Alexa life alert is easy to use. In the event of a fall or other medical episode, all you have to say is "Alexa Open My SOS Family" and ask for help. 

The system then sends an alert to each person in your response circle. Once one person has advised they're available to respond, the app will notify you and all other parties listed as an emergency contact.

On your phone, you can add a shortcut of the app to your home screen for faster access. 

Your responders don't need Wi-Fi

This is great if any of your emergency contacts have a limited data plan, or have an older phone model. 

You can add unlimited responders

So no matter how big your family, or how many caregivers you have, you'll always be able to add responders in the app. 

My SOS Family - Emergency Alert App

(Image credit: My SOS Family - Emergency Alert App)

How to set up My SOS Family app as a medical alert system on the Amazon Echo

Setting up the app to use as a medical alert system couldn't be simpler:

1. Download the My SOS Family app 

2. Set up your account with your email and password

3. Add the number you want to phone in an emergency

Linking My SOS Family to your Amazon Echo

1. Open the Alexa App and click on the menu, which is shown as three bars

2. Look for Skills and click into it, then search for My SOS Family

3. Select the app and press Enable

4. Put in your name and password from the My SOS Family account

5. Click to link your emergency number to your Amazon Echo then select Done. You're all set!

Using the app with Alexa in an emergency 

If you need urgent attention, say “Alexa Open My SOS Family and send for Help.” You can also use the app via your Amazon Echo to check-in with your family and tell them you're ok, even if there's not an emergency.

Can Alexa call 911?

In short, Alexa can call 911, but not directly. Alexa needs to use the assistance of a smart hub, like Amazon’s Echo Connect to make direct voice calls. The Echo connect is compatible with all Alexa-enabled devices and is a fast, easy way to quickly sync up all your phone contacts with your Amazon Alexa. 

Once it’s set up, you can directly dial contacts by voice command from anywhere in the room: so, if you have a fall you can get help from almost anywhere in your home. 

Other third-party applications like My SOS Family or Ask My Buddy are alternatives to buying an Echo Connect. All you need is your Alexa voice assistant and internet connection to use them. 

These apps work by helping you define a personal network from your contacts list, and automatically contacting them by phone, text message and email when you say ‘check on me’. 

What’s more interesting though, is that you can also use these for positive confirmation too, to stop loved ones or carers worrying unnecessarily about you. Imagine you accidentally drop your Alexa and it triggers a fall alert, but you personally feel fine. 

You’d be able to tell your personal network ‘I’m ok’ and automate emails being sent, and texts being delivered without ever even touching your phone!

Should I consider using my phone or smartwatch as a medical alert device?  

Woman checks smartwatch. Photo by Luke Chesser on Unsplash

(Image credit: Photo by Luke Chesser on Unsplash)

While a cell-phone is convenient if you have a fall you may not be able to reach it. A smartwatch is better because you have  a medical alert system on your wrist.

There are several smartwatches with medical alert systems in the marketplace. Have a look here for the best medical alert smartwatches.  

Final thoughts

In conclusion, if you’re looking for an affordable way to keep in touch with an elderly relative or your relations, My SOS Family works well as an Amazon Echo medical alert for a yearly or monthly subscription.

Once the Alexa life alert it has been set up it is easy to use, especially if your elderly relative also has a smartwatch with two-way communication, or they can access their phone. 

You can find out more information about the Echo speaker by browsing our Amazon Echo reviews

Julia Cameron

Freelance Healthcare Copywriter at Bluebean Copywriting