We’ve covered various forms of GPS and wifi tracking devices that can be used for elderly family members before, but they’ve all had very tight ranges and are mostly for use inside the home. But what about a system that can work outside the home, leveraging cellular and GPS connectivity to provide tracking and emergency services to anyone who may need it? That’s where a company called MobileHelp comes in. I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with their CEO, Elias Janetis, about MobileHelp, the reasons why he started the company, and what makes his product superior and unique compared to similar options.
“When my grandfather wasn’t there to fill this gap in, we really saw the clear condition of where my grandmother was really at, standalone, by herself.”
Elias, like many people, lived several hours away from his elderly grandmother. As she began to show signs of dementia, he began requesting she call him when she left the house and when she returned home safely. If she forgot to call, it led to a panicked afternoon of calling her usual spots and hoping she was ok and just not answering the phone.
At the time, he was working in the field of medical alert systems, and he knew the limitations of these “button and a box” type systems. They worked fine in the home, but if you had to step out even to go down the driveway to get the mail you were out of range. And they had limited communication options, plus they were not waterproof, meaning they were only worn when it was convenient.
“Mobilehelp is a portable OnStar type device for in-home seniors”
So Elias started MobileHelp to change all that. He looked at the concept of cell phones; they are useful, but complicated, requiring you to know how to dial and complete a call in an emergency. If you rarely use your cell phone and mostly keep it for “emergencies”, it can be difficult to remember all the steps, and there’s no guarantee it will even be charged when you need it. So he partnered with AT&T to create a different kind of cellular device.
The device has one button that transfers you to a monitoring station, where all your information is available to the operator. They know your medical history, whether you have allergies, and any disabilities that may be pertinent to assisting with your care (such as deafness, etc). GPS helps the operator dispatch emergency services quickly without the user having to know a specific location. There is also an option to set off an alarm if emergency services cannot find the person, or the injured individual cannot call for help.
“911 doesn’t know who you are, or where you are, or what your situation is.”
Even better, and showing that Elias designed MobileHelp around his experiences with his grandmother, the system comes with what they call “caretaker tools”. When a call is made to the monitoring system, an email and phone call goes out to family contacts alerting them there was an incident.
In addition, the MobileHelp system also has a home base station and waterproof pendant, a “medical alert+” type of system. It hooks in with the GPS/cellular device, so if the cellular device is out of reach, hitting the pendant activates it and alerts the monitoring station that help is needed. All that in addition, of course, to the regular in-home monitoring that a typical pendant/base station offers.
Looking forward, MobileHelp is planning to add text message notifications, a geo-fence option, and online locating are going to be built in with the caregiver tools.
Where MobileHelp really believe they shine is in pricing. A typical medical alert type program costs between $35-50/month, while the MobileHelp system starts at $35/month, with the additional values of the caregiver tools and the cellular device.
After talking with Elias, and hearing the story about his grandmother and the passion with which he spoke about the product, it is clear this is a labor of love. With so much of the population retiring, and with their children and grandchildren taking on caregiver duties, devices like MobileHelp are going to become even more important to everyday life.
You can check out MobileHelp’s website.