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Professional vs. Self-Monitored PERS Systems

Mandee Thomas
Jan 29, 2019 8:04:00 AM

With all the different kinds of personal emergency response service (PERS) devices available, it can be difficult to for subscribers to know exactly what qualities to look for when researching products. Having a system that is professionally monitored or self-monitored will make a big difference in how the device user receives help when they activate their device. As a dealer talking to a potential customer about the monthly cost of having a PERS device, it's likely they will want to know the benefits of having a professionally monitored system.  Let’s take a look at both to weigh the pros and cons.

Self Monitored PERS & mPERS Systems

Self-monitored PERS systems don’t make use of a call center when the device is activated. After triggering the device, the signal either goes directly to 911 or a predetermined list of family member/friends in order to get help. There are definitely some appealing qualities of self-monitored PERS and mPERS systems when compared to devices incorporating professional monitoring, but one aspect trumps them all.

No Monthly Fee

There is no doubt that the most appealing feature of a self-monitored medical alert system is cost. Where monitored PERS devices involve a monthly fee (generally ranging between $19 and $49), and signing mPERS monitoring licensing requirements, all consumers need to worry about with self-monitored devices is their upfront cost. No contracts, no cancellation fees, and no subscription payments to make.

GPS Locating Technology

Location technology (GPS or otherwise) is available in nearly every mobile-capable PERS system whether self-monitored or professionally monitored. Traditional in-home systems (that require a landline and/or power plug) do not feature location services and are available in both professionally monitored and self-monitored varieties. Some of the professionally monitored devices do not have a related care giver app to provide a user's location and rely on integrations between the devices and the monitoring center to provide the location of the user.


There is something to be said about a simple plug-and-play framework in a product. With most self-monitored medical alert systems being targeted to DIY consumers, they are designed to be easy to set up and don’t require an installer to make a visit or a phone call to a monitoring center.

Professionally Monitored PERS & mPERS Systems

A PERS or mPERS system set up with professional monitoring involves a trained central station employee taking the call when the device is activated. The operator is able to speak directly to the subscriber to ask them if they need help and determine the course of action that should be taken based on why they pressed their button. A professionally monitored medical alert system can be a great lifeline for seniors or people with disabilities who want to live independently.

Precise Information for Emergency Services

When help is needed, it can be overwhelming to provide information to emergency services. Most monitoring centers keep a detailed record of a subscriber’s account information, including address, lockbox codes, and even necessary health info. This can be crucial in an emergency situation, and helps reduce property damage when EMS professionals enter a home.

Let's consider the following hypothetical example: Beth is suffering from a heart attack. She activates her medical pendant and is connected to a monitoring center operator. When the operator asks if she needs help, she’s too short of breath to properly respond. Since the operator has all of Beth’s information on file, they are able to quickly reach out to the local authorities, give them the information they need, and send someone to help.

Provides Both Emergency & Non-Emergency Help

Subscribers with monitored PERS devices can rest assured that they can get the help they need, even if the situation isn’t dire. Maybe they’ve fallen down, out of reach of their phone and they don’t want the paramedics breaking down their door, but they would welcome the help of a neighbor. With a monitored device, a central station operator can quickly get in contact with a neighbor of family member to get them the help they require. And a response is guaranteed. With a top-tier professional monitoring center, subscribers reach a redundant center to ensure the alarm is received and handled.

Test Without Worry

Whether a PERS system is professionally monitored or not, it’s important to test regularly to make sure it’s working properly. Some self-monitored systems are set up to dispatch emergency services as soon as the signal goes out. The nice thing about testing a device that is monitored by a professional company, is that users can activate and test the device without having to worry about EMS dispatching immediately.

Also, many monitored devices have "check-in" functionality that allows the monitoring center and dealer a way to know if the device is working without the subscriber being involved. This is a fantastic benefit and comfort to know that the device is always primed and ready to use.

Presenting the Benefits of Professional Monitoring

We’ve featured multiple stories about people who were grateful for a monitored medical alert system in their time of need: like the time that Amelia had an allergic reaction that left her unable to breathe and the AvantGuard operator was there to send help as well as stay on the line while she waited for the ambulance to arrive. Another story featured Ida, who used her pendant to get help after being trapped in an earthquake.

If subscribers are hesitant for any reason to make the jump to a professionally monitored PERS device, it's easy to lay out the numerous benefits and layers of protection they provide with only a nominal fee being the trade-off. Ultimately, a professional monitoring set-up will give subscribers and their family peace of mind no matter what may happen.

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