While the commercial success of wearable technology has been hotly debated, the medical industry has snapped up smartwatches for keeping patients safe when mobile, or monitoring those who want to age in place.
The best medical alert smartwatches today allow their wearer to monitor a range of medical factors discretely, and even detect a fall.
Many standard smartwatches, like the Apple Watch, can monitor heart rate and keep a step count, but other products are designed to go beyond those abilities and provide a link to support services in the event of a problem.
In the future, wearables will most likely provide these functions inherently, but for now here are five of the best Medical Alert Smartwatches that you can get.
Also, it's worth noting that medical alert smartwatches are often offered as part of a medical alert system package. You can read about the best medical alert systems and services in our guide.
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After the undisputed success of the iPhone and iPad, Apple hoped the Apple Watch would be the next big product for them, and it never quite achieved that status.
However, now with the fifth version available Apple Watch is a significantly matured product compared with the initial release, both in hardware terms and the suit of fitness and health-related applications available.
The latest model can record an ECG through touch, track your sleep, protect your hearing from excessive sounds, and monitor your heart rate.
With the third-generation, Apple Watch fall detection was first introduced. It isn’t configured as on by default, but making it active isn’t difficult.
What’s interesting about this feature is that once it detects what it considers to be a fall it will ask you if you fell, just dropped the Watch or need emergency assistance.
If it can detect movement it will wait for input, but if it doesn’t detect any motion after a minute it will automatically call 911 (in the USA) and get you assistance.
However, calling 911 might not be ideal depending on the geographic location, but you have the alternative of using an app like FallCall Lite+. It will provide the wearer with an alert button that will contact predefined caregivers or a medical support line.
To help those coming to your aid, Apple has a Medical ID system where you can input various medical conditions, allergies, etc. The only caveat is that you need an Apple iPhone or iPad to access these input pages.
The Freedom Guardian might sound like a new Marvel character, but it is a discrete support device for seniors to wear when they’re on their own.
It comes in black or white, looks and works like a basic smartwatch, and has a large red button that if pressed for three seconds, connects the wearer to an emergency response team.
Internet and mobile comms connection are via a pre-installed mobile SIM, meaning that a mobile phone and service is not required to get help. And, the mobile service can send and receive SMS messages from the device, using voice text-to-speech to compose responses.
An Apple or Android phone can be used with the Freedom Guardian by friends and family to tell them the wearers current location, and if they’ve sent any alerts. And, the same information is also available to those sanctioned via a web-based interface.
However, these facilities and service come at a cost in both the hardware and subscription service that works alongside it.
The device is just $99, but to be able to summon help costs $1.45 per day ($44.95 a month). It is possible to reduce that to $1.35 per day if you pay annually, but that adds up to $494.45 every year.
Some senior support devices lack the polish of branded technology, but the MobileHelp Smart looks very professional, as it was made by Samsung.
The hardware at its core is a Samsung Gear S3, although the operating system has been customised for the support role.
Like the Freedom Guardian, this is a standalone device that can connect to a mobile phone service to transmit data and summon help. And, it can do that if the wearer is in the USA.
But this smartwatch is a much more sophisticated device with some elaborate applications that can track the health of the wearer and help them achieve fitness goals.
We only have a few reservations about the MobileHelp Smart, and the first of those is that the device costs $349.95, nearly the price of the even more sophisticated Apple Watch 5. And, it also requires a monthly monitoring subscription of $24.95.
The other issue is that the interface is small, and the buttons on it are also tiny for anyone with dexterity or coordination issues.
Where this device would be a hit is with a senior who is technologically astute, as they can get the most out of the impressive Samsung hardware and software combination.
OMRON is better known for a wide range of clinical devices that includes blood pressure monitors, Nebulisers, thermometers and pain relievers.
The HeartGuide is a new direction for the company, taking the portability of blood pressure monitoring to a whole new level.
Looking like a designer watch, the HeartGuide is the first blood pressure monitor that is clinically approved, and by definition, it can make highly accurate readings.
The captured data is collected by the device and relayed via a mobile phone to build an accurate model of the wearer’s health history and provide feedback should issues arise.
An associated app, HeartAdvisor is available for both Apple and Android phones and can help provide useful information to share with a doctor.
In addition to blood pressure records, the HeartAdvisor also monitors sleep patterns and physical activity.
What this device doesn’t do is bring assistance should the wearer fall or need help. Although the information it gathers could be invaluable to anyone with heart issues, and those who want to track personal fitness.
At £499, this isn’t an inexpensive item, but it is a high-quality device that features the latest technology, and almost nothing else available is clinically approved.
Just check that you have a wrist size that will work with the device before ordering, as the HeartGuide only comes in one size with limited scope.
Samsung got into the wearables market before Apple, and they now have a wide range of smartwatch products, that now includes the Galaxy Watch Active2 4G.
As the Active2 title hints, this is a smartwatch designed for those who like to improve their fitness and want some technology to track their progress.
But it can do so much more, including sleep monitoring, helping with breathing control, and monitoring the heart rates and recovery of the wearer.
Heart monitoring is integral to this design, and the Active2 will even send you an alert if it thinks your heart rate is going outside the normal scope of activity.
Depending on your mobile provider, it can also use a mobile SIM with the same number as your phone, allowing it to replace one for handling calls and contactless payment.
But, considering that it works as a phone, is waterproof, wirelessly charges and enables access to many health-related apps, we were surprised that it didn’t cost more than it does.
A typical UK price for the basic Active2 £233.34 from Amazon.co.uk, and in the USA it is $249. And, the newer 4G version is £369 and $399.99 respectively.
Before you purchase one, we suggest you check that the Active2 works with your mobile provider. Vodafone, for example, had issues with this device.