When a hospital admits you, the call button is one of the first items brought to your attention. The button is often tied to a bed rail or pinned to your sheets. Trains, buses, and airplanes have an emergency cords stop or help buttons. Even the ride-sharing company Uber added a panic button to the Uber smartphone app. We’ve written about a wearable that calls for help when people fall, a connected motorcycle helmet light that calls emergency services, and a phone designed for the elderly and physically challenged with a call help app button. As we become increasingly connected, more ways to reach out for help keep appearing.

Homestead Health Care Systems introduced the NurseCaller Call Button Pendant, an easy-to-use wearable whose name describes its function. Designed for home-based patients, NurseCaller has an integrated two-way speakerphone so callers can talk with healthcare providers directly. According to the company, the NurseCaller’s rechargeable 800 mAh lithium battery lasts for about three days on a charge. LED lights and configurable text alerts inform patients and others when the battery needs to be recharged. Claimed to be fully HIPPA-compliant, the NurseCaller does not retain any protected patient information, and the call numbers are not visible. Patients are encouraged to wear the waterproof NurseCaller in the tub or shower. The NurseCaller protocol sends text messages to three configured providers in order of patient preference, followed by phone calls to the same numbers in the same order. Two optional services use the Nursecaller’s built-in GPS unit: Fall Alerts and Wander Alerts. When the wearable detects a fall with no subsequent activity to indicate getting up, it sends SMS messages. With geo-fencing, if a patient wanders beyond a pre-set perimeter, one again SMS messages go out to configured contacts. NurseCaller is a one-time purchase for professional home health providers; prices range from $59 to $89 depending on quantity. The monthly service ranges from $16 to $19, again quantity-determined.  Retail customers can purchase NurseCaller at higher prices for the device and monthly service.

Universally connected homes, stores, cars, and other environments will be the reality someday. Until we reach the tipping point of universal connectivity, however, devices such as NurseCaller fill a need for special populations.