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Introduction

According to Schottke (2010), medical alert devices and systems allow quicker response to any accidental situation at homes and work places which aids in faster recovery and survival. These systems have been found to be reliable and affordable. Notably the easily accessible monitoring system in many homes cost much cheaper than regular bills. These devices help to ensure that the elderly and children can be left at home without having to worry about their safety. However Schottke (2010) notes that medical alert devices and systems have not been embraced fully, as they are supposed to be, because most people are not comfortable to refer it to their friends. Other people are comfortable with these devices because they are discrete, since most are worn in the form of necklaces and bracelets.

Nugent (2005) suggests that a medical alert device or system is most recommended accidents solution for those who live alone and are at risk of falling or getting burn. In such situation, the user has the peace of mind because there is an assurance of quicker arrival of medical assistance whenever there is an emergency situation. Moreover, Nugent (2005) observes that the user is allowed to keep their independence and reduce the anxiety and doubt of their loved ones. Similarly, Nugent (2005) observes that personal medical response systems for emergency situations give the user the independence to operate their normal routines. Besides, they provide a peace of mind for both the user and the caregivers all the time.

Tan (2005) observes that these medical alert devices are useful in the homes as they help to observe a comprehensive personal care to victims and gives freedom to the users to carry on with their chores without fear of an accident. These systems are similar to other personal help systems found in many homes but these, unlike any other personal help system, help to ensure that the victim receives the help whenever it is needed.  On their basic use, medical alert systems, like senior alarms, give liberty to people who may be exposed to risks of injuries and accidents that happen at home, especially those in elderly care. Additionally, Tan (2005) notes that besides being useful to the victims they give family and friends a greater sense of freedom. Medical alerts and systems give a family a sense of relief.

Emergence of Medical Alert Systems

Tan (2005) observes that medical alert systems came after the invention of home alert systems in Germany by Wilhelm Hormann in the 1970s. Hormann wanted to develop a system with features which could provide ambulatory and non ambulatory services for sick, elderly, and disabled people. Initially, the system was seen as broad, including the communication of biomedical data and social communication which was only limited to the use by the elderly. Observably, Tan (2005) notes that the technical implementation was achieved with the help of a company called AEG-Telefunken Backnang GmbH and was displayed to the public in the early 1980s.  Tan (2005) observes that in 1982, the home alert system was awarded the Frankfurt Innovation Prize of the German Economy by a Business Club in Frankfurt.

 Earlierin1975, Schottke (2010) noted that the American International Telephone Company had produced an emergency home phone system which was similar to Hormann's one. In this system, the user would wear a medallion around the neck which was pushed to generate a preprogrammed message to several phone numbers. Lay-Ekuakille (2010) also notes that most of what was known as medical alert systems in the 1970s was a crude non-waterproof heavy system  that was worn around the neck. He observes that devices could not be taken in the shower and wouldn`t allow free movement around the house.  This was to change with the Hormann’s invention in the 1980’s. In this regard, Schottke (2010) notes that medical alert adornment transmitters started to reduce in size and weight. But still these medical alert systems were not waterproof and, therefore, could not be worn to places which were slippery and, thus, dangerous to the user. This meant that these systems failed to meet the requirements for which they were intended. Their usage depended on the skills of the users who demanded that the button remained within their reach whenever they went to places with water.

Lay-Ekuakille (2010) notes that nowadays medical alerts devices and systems are not purchased. Instead they are rented on behalf of the senior medical monitoring service. Unlike the initial systems, they are waterproof and can be used in a shower or tub. He adds that of equal importance is that today’s medical alerts devices have a voice-to-voice channel that allows user to make voice calls to the medical monitoring center without him or her touching the phone. In this way, the users can communicate with the operator from wherever they are. Lay-Ekuakille (2010) notes that the worn device can facilitate communication as far as 400 feet away if the user is in a storey building, and depending on the surrounding. Notably, when the operator receives the communication from the user, he/she knows that the client is in distress and, therefore, dispatches the local number for respondent.

Contemporary Issues in medical alert devices and systems

According to Schottke (2010), medical alert systems became very popular among  the senior users. But he notes that this boom has negated the quality of services provided despite the advanced technology. For instance, he observes that most of the available systems on the market depend on the use of mobile phones which require a connection to the user. In this way, it becomes difficult for the user to get through, especially when the lines are engaged.. Most people who needed help from medical monitoring centers failed to get the services during an accident because whenever they tried to reach the medics the lines were always engaged.

Similarly, competition in the provision of medical alert devices has seen service providers launching new devices in the market which require users to test one device after the other meaning that they have no time to actually use the device in case of the emergency. For instance, Lay-Ekuakille (2010) observes that the latest device is the updated MPERS launched by Lifecomm, commonly known as the I've-fallen-and-I-can't-get-up device, that transmits information using the cell phone. Similarly, there is the “aging in place” section launched by Kohler which offers devices such as Elevance Rising Wall Tub and the Comfort Height which aims at enhancing the life of the users. A common factor in all these new devices is that they are focused on style rather than the benefit that the user is going to get from the device.

Predictably, Lay-Ekuakille (2010) writes that despite the style centered approach towards the designing of the devices, it is likely that the demand for medical alert devices is likely to increase in future. He notes that in the next 20 years more than 78 million people in the United States alone will enter an elderly age which will require them to use the devices in homes. According to Schottke (2010), most of these people want to remain independent in the face of their faltering health. A study done by AARP found that three out of four people who are 45 years and above prefer staying in their homes for most of their elderly life, indicating the need for medical alert systems. Nugent (2005) argues that this has risen due to the desire of the elderly to remain fruitful rather than being considered old and in need of help from their families. Nugent (2005) reveals that the need for medical alert systems is hinged also on the fact that one out of three people in their elderly life experience a form of home accident, for instance, falls.

However, Schottke (2010) indicates that the elderly may be disappointed as most of the devices retain their utilitarian feel in an old fashioned manner. For instance, Schottke (2010) notes that despite the technological advancement of medical alert devices, such as the new TabSafe pill dispensers, they are still bulky with their old white front which may not appeal to the modern elderly people. Similarly, Tan (2005) indicates that while most of the medical alert devices have reduced in size, most of them still show that they're mainly meant for old people. He adds that those devices which claim to be focusing on the older people are only done so from a style point of view.

Similarly, Nugent (2005) notes that where services providers claim to have made decent upgrades, observers suggest that their age friendly products for places like bathroom and kitchen are easier to turn. Additionally, these devices should focus on those elderly people who have a problem with standing for a long time as they work in these areas to avoid a fall. It is notable that the companies making these products for the users have had a good start as they focus on the lifestyle of their consumers. In this way, Nugent (2005) notes that it will be easier to bring updated products to aging people in homes.

Another issue that needs to be addressed in medical alert systems is the changing needs of the old people. Tan (2005) notes that as people grow older, it becomes evident that their needs continue changing and, therefore, the devices that they were using previously may not be of help today. This is because aging implies that physical weakness gradually accelerates by illnesses, hence there is need for care and treatment to such people. Still, Schottke (2010) indicates that many of the aging people will prefer self exercise without the assistance of any person which makes the provision of medical alert devices complicated. This is the reason why many medical alert systems are becoming preferable in many parts of the world. With most aging people wishing to invest their time in retirement in homes, accessing devices for medical assistance in case of an emergency become a priority to them. In this regard, Schottke (2010) technology has come in handy to assist the aging people to perform activities which they would normally not be able to do. Similarly, it is also meant to make safety measures to the elderly people who are mostly left at home on their own as caregivers attend to balance care giving with other activities. 

Tan (2005) observes that with the availability of handy gadgets to send messages in case of an accident in homes, so many lives have been saved. This emanates from the fact that gradual bodily weakness of the elderly causes accidents which would have been avoided if they were physically fit. These devices also help in avoiding the confining health facilities in which such elders could be taken to. Tan (2005) suggests that having a medical alert ensures that the elderly get the best in the final stages of their lives.

On the same note, Schottke (2010) writes that the use of medical alert systems has benefited from the modern technology which guarantees faster response to calls of distress. It is now history that elderly people fail to get medical attention simply because they lack a medical alert system. It is possible for people who need such help to touch a button for instant medical attention in their homes. Nugent (2005) suggests that the use of medical alert devices is widespread, especially among elderly people and others who are disabled or have medical conditions. Medical alert systems have enabled easier access towards the medical system. Lay-Ekuakille(2010) notes that these systems have the advantage because they are easy to set up, hence considered as individualized treatment. Similarly, Schottke (2010) notes that such medical systems are found to be important to people who have chronic diseases which could endanger their lives any time.  Such people are provided with medical alert systems like medical alert necklace, bracelet, and pendant to wear as they do their work in homes.

However, Nugent (2005) notes that despite  many benefits of medical alert devices and systems it is notable that many people who need devices still have misconceptions.  For instance, Nugent (2005) suggests that some people still believe that this kind of technology is expensive. Still, others question their dependability to save lives.  Nugent (2005) argue that such misconception has prevented many people who require these devices to take the advantage of the life saving devices available for them. To counteract this misconception, Lay-Ekuakille (2010) cites that medical alert devices and systems have become vital resources with regard to health insurance and maintenance of the overall well-being of the elderly people. In this way, medical alert systems provide self reliance services to the elderly who would wish to stay alone in homes or avoid going to a nursing home.

The value of a medical alert system depends on various factors. According to Lay-Ekuakille (2010), a good medical alert system should be easy to install without the need for extra work on the part of the user. He adds that the device should provide monitoring feature to ensure effective and efficient way communication. Besides, it should bear enough company information to ascertain their availability whenever there is an emergency. Additionally, the company needs to be certified by relevant bodies to ensure that the service offered is of good quality and meets the minimum safety standards. For instance, Tan (2005) indicates that in a technologically advanced world the device should allow the online account access.

Future Issues in Medical Alert Devices and Systems

According to Lay-Ekuakille (2010), medical alert systems are extremely important to people who are aging. He suggests that there is need to change the perception of people toward medical alert system in order to ensure that every aging person is accessed to medical help whenever it is needed in their homes. With the advanced technology in all areas of life, it is important that aging people get help which will ensure that they have a comfortable life while they are spending their final lives. Similarly, Lay-Ekuakille (2010) notes that medical alert systems will be designed in such a manner as to allow users to communicate with other people who are using similar devices for exchange of information and experience. This will ensure that the life of the user is not surrounded only by medical devices but rather these people can have an experience of interaction with other users across the world. Similarly, future development of medical alert systems should focus on systems which are affordable but efficient so that the question of reliability cannot arise. The response rate to accidents should be equally small enough to allow the victims have quicker medical services.

Similarly, Brouhard (2011) observes that the technology used in designing medical devices need to be focused on saving the lives of the users rather than on style. Brouhard (2011) suggests that ther is need to personalized attention to users with sensitive sensors just in case medical assistance is really a requirement. In such situation, a user who subscribes to the service will feel secure always with the knowledge that help is at their door step in case of an accident.  Additionally, there is need to carry out user`s education to ensure that when the users finally acquire the device they can use it in a proper way to avoid mismatch of information during an emergency situation.  It is also likely that medical alert systems will be remotely controlled to eliminate the current one which requires to be worn around the neck. This will reduce the bulk to which the elderly who are already weak are required to carry around their homes. Similarly, effort should be made to ensure that the user has full information on the basic components of the device that allows easy working before signing up for such services.

In my opinion, the future of medical alert devices depends much on how current systems are going to save lives of the elderly in homes. Governments providing medical cover will require that workers contribution to medical cover include the cost of medical alert systems so that they won’t require purchasing these devices during their elderly life. Similarly, technology will play a crucial role in ensuring better services to people who are prone to accidents in their homes during their elderly life.

Conclusion

It is evident from the above discussion  that medical alert systems are important tools in health care which require proper planning by all players in the sector. Technocrats need to come up with systems which are user friendly and also pocket friendly so that elderly and disabled people can purchase these important tools in their lives. Similarly, service providers should ensure that the systems they provide meet the expectations of the users. However, it is notable that much effort has already been put in place to ensure that the elderly and the disabled have a comfortable life during their elderly lives. It is also important to note that with the advanced technology, more important medical devices will continue to be realized into the market and, therefore, there is need to be educated on the  usage and it is important to avoid getting devices that will not add value to the users` lives.

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