Welcome to Florida Telehealth
With the support of twelve other Virginia Beach Volunteer Emergency Medical Technicians, I created an alert company that is significantly different from the other well-known alert companies.
Our company is built on the experience of responding to over ten thousand 9-1-1 calls and learning from the patients themselves how they would like to see the alert industry change.
We are not driven by hidden profit centers that create wealth for the shareholders, but instead, we offer paradigm breaking services and policies that hold the health and finances of our customers and their families as our #1 priority.
Below, I uncover two large profit centers utilized by the other well-known companies that cost their customers a ton of cash and complications, while making huge profits for the shareholders. I then highlight how we do it much differently, giving our clients customized and health-wise choices with an easy exit when living arrangements change.
Industry Paradigm Smash #1: The Requirement of a Monitoring Center and Its Costs to You
Offering only a professionally monitored option drives up your costs and their profits.
It also most likely assures an expensive dramatic over-response by emergency medical services that includes three firefighters and two paramedics barging into your home for minor events that a family member or neighbor could have easily handled privately and with dignity for you or your loved one.
Think $40 a month for an alert button is too much? Wait until the bills arrive from the ambulance transport service and the emergency department following your non-emergency events.
I have spoken to many of our new customers who in the past, with other medical alert companies, have chosen to avoid the repeating over-response situation and not push their button when they need assistance, but instead stay on the floor for hours knowing their son comes by every evening and he can help them then.
Imagine how the same event would play out differently if the alert went directly to the son and other adult children, friends, or neighbors. One of those chosen care buddies could easily be all the assistance needed.
In situations where there are no family members or friends close by who can assist, the monitoring center option is a great choice, but it shouldn’t be the only option for customers who have family and friends nearby who can assist.
How Do We Break Paradigm #1?
We offer several Family Response options that keep healthcare and ambulance transport decisions in the control of the family.
Our RescueTouch Family Response systems are programmed to alert up to five chosen family members, neighbors, or friends via text and phone calls to their smartphones. If your loved one does indeed need immediate medical attention, family members can easily call 9-1-1 or take mom to her chosen medical provider.
Yes, we also offer the traditional Professional Monitoring Center option. We partner with the #1 monitoring center in the industry, AvantGuard.
Industry Paradigm Break #2: Promise of Free Loaned Equipment
The offer of free loaned equipment is a HUGE profit center for the industry’s best-known alert companies.
Why? The answer is in the small print of their Terms of Service or Return Policy. The alert companies purchase an alert system from an electronics manufacturer for approximately $75. They then ship it to a new customer under the ruse that it’s free.
In theory, it is free “only” if the customer returns all of the equipment and its accessories in working order and in a timely manner. However, as we all know, life happens and two to three years later, living arrangements change and more likely than not the family members helping mom move from her home are not aware of the required equipment return. Because mom no longer needs the system, it will be discarded with the other household items that are not going with mom to her new living arrangements. And the scene is set for the financial hit.
The companies that offer free equipment know this scenario well and hide exorbitantly high non-returned equipment fees in their Terms of Service and Return policies. The alert companies know that within just a few cycles of lending out that free alert system, a customer will not return the equipment and the customer will be legally required to pay the non-returned equipment fee.
To make matters worse, the Terms of Service likely imposes the monthly monitoring fee until the equipment and all accessories are returned to their satisfaction. The company will continue charging the payor’s credit card until the non-returned equipment fee is paid.
This profit center is known as the “Double-Dip” and was proudly explained to me by one of the “founding fathers” of the alert industry when I was launching our new company back in 2015.
Following are Terms of Service and Return Policy excerpts from the best-known companies in the industry:
“A lost or damaged equipment fee of up to $350 will be charged for the [equipment] . . . which must be returned with both the charging cradle and the handheld device, otherwise a lost equipment fee will apply. The [equipment] must be returned with the base station and 3 safety sensors (2 activity sensors and 1 main door contact sensor), otherwise, a lost equipment fee will apply.
“If the complete System is not returned, you will continue to be charged the service fee. If you fail to pay the service fee and do not return the equipment, you shall pay Company up to Six Hundred Fifty Dollars ($650.00) for the System, plus any unpaid service fees.”
“The monthly monitoring contract will automatically renew unless either party gives written notice of its intent to cancel. . . . . Failure to return all equipment in satisfactory condition will result in a charge of $350.00. In addition, your account will continue to be billed at $29.95/month until our unit is returned in good working order.”
What could be worse than the unexpected hidden non-returned equipment fees and continued monthly fees?
How about the fact that you or your loved one is wearing someone else’s contaminated used equipment?
Yes, that’s correct, companies that offer free loaned equipment cycle the equipment through to multiple customers until one of the customers doesn’t return it.
The equipment that is returned is recycled, put into a new box with a new instruction manual and shipped out to a new customer.
On an old computer, I had a couple of photos of used systems that were physically opened, and they exhibited bug nests, clumps of human and pet hair, and insect larvae.
Do you think the best-known companies’ cleanup includes removing screws, separating the equipment shell, and legitimately sterilizing? I no longer have those photos to share with you; however, let me paint you a picture of 9-1-1 calls to which all EMS systems respond.
As an ambulance based EMT, I was required to disinfect the entire stretcher and throw away my used latex gloves after each patient transport as not to cross contaminate the next patient even if it was only a benign five-minute ambulance ride to the hospital.
What would the disinfect protocol be if the previous patient had slept on the stretcher in their home for the previous two years? I witnessed many significant unsanitary situations in homes of the elderly who were struggling with respiratory and skin diseases, poor hygiene, dog feces, bug infestations, and other transferable medical conditions.
Do you want your loved one to be wearing a device recycled from one of those homes?
How Do We Smash Paradigm #2?
I learned about the industry practice of recycling used equipment and hiding the non-returned equipment fee in the small print of the service agreement when I was first launching the company. I could not believe that was the industry-wide accepted practice.
Based on my medical training and experiences on the ambulance I knew the used equipment business model was irresponsible and a health threat to customers, so I implemented a new and very different business model regarding used/loaned/free equipment versus new/purchased equipment.
We do not hide fees in the small print. We’re upfront, and simply charge a one-time purchase of the equipment of only $99 which the customer knows before doing business with us. When things change and you no longer need our services just give us a call or send an email requesting to close your account.
We’ll close your account that day, stop all recurring payments, and refund unused prepaid monies. The now used equipment is yours to throw away or keep for another day. We’ll close our business relationship and sincerely wish you and your family the best.
Like 9-1-1 calls, there are many different scenarios when it comes to medical alert needs. If you feel my experience can assist you with making an informed decision, let’s schedule a time to discuss your specific situation.I’ll contact you via phone call at my earliest opportunity.
Scott A. Lepper
Founder, CEO, Former Virginia Beach EMT
Florida Health Alert and Smart Home