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This interview was conducted back in 2016 but we feel its value carries into the present day.
As the CEO and Founder of Medical Guardian, Geoff Gross has more than 10 years of experience in the medical alert industry. After his grandmother had several falls at home, Gross started Medical Guardian in 2005 out of his apartment. It was through his dedication and leadership that Medical Guardian has grown to become one of the industry’s leading providers of medical alert systems, protecting countless lives nationwide. To ensure that seniors are receiving the best possible protection, Gross understands the importance of embracing the industry’s latest advancements. That’s why Medical Guardian’s product suite includes easy-to-use devices compatible with GPS and automatic fall detection technology.
Due to his forefront innovation in the medical alert industry, Gross has received many awards, most notably Smart CEO’s 2015 Future 50 award and EY’s Entrepreneur of the Year award for the past two years. In addition to his dedication to providing seniors and their loved ones with the peace of mind that comes with owning a medical alert system, Geoff is also very passionate about his commitment to social responsibility. Geoff sits on the Board of Directors for the Greater Delaware Valley Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society, and he is also the founder and chair of “Preakness at the Piazza,” an annual fundraiser that generates awareness of MS in the young professional sector.
We had the chance to interview Gross to get to know him and the medical device industry a little better, so read on to learn more.
1. Why and how was Medical Guardian started and your role in its foundation?
I started the company in 2005 with the idea that Medical Guardian could provide simple, reliable and affordable medical alert services to seniors across the nation. The company began in the living room of my Philadelphia apartment, and I spent the first year speaking to customers myself! It was very helpful as I was able to learn firsthand of the problems that they were facing, and the solutions necessary to keep our customers living safely and independently in their homes.
2. What was the biggest reason for starting this new company?
The inspiration behind starting Medical Guardian is very close to my heart because it involves my grandmother, Freda. At the time, she had been living alone for many years, but after a couple of knee surgeries, she started to experience falls from time to time. It was right before I started Medical Guardian that she had a bad fall in the bathtub and couldn’t get herself out—she laid in the tub overnight until her neighbors noticed that her lights were still on the next morning. She was very lucky, but my family and I knew that that wouldn’t always be the case. That’s when I decided to help my grandmother research medical alert companies, but none of them seemed to offer the level of personalized, quality service that I wanted for her and my family. Frustrated by the lack of options and realizing that what my family was going through was also being experienced by millions of other families across the country, so I started Medical Guardian. My Grandmom was actually one of my first clients, and she—of course—volunteered to be a reference for any potential customers that wanted to speak to a current user. I don’t think there was ever a person she talked to that didn’t sign up after a call with her!
3. What do you feel has been the biggest change in the industry since founding the company?
The biggest change has been the perception of our service. In the early days, it was clear that potential customers thought they needed to be old or in bad physical condition to need our service. They felt that as soon as they put the button on the person became older. Thanks to the messages we’ve been able to communicate over the last 11 years I feel strong that our clients now understand that this is a service that keeps them young rather than makes them old. The button allows a client to continue to live an active, independent lifestyle thanks to both our home and mobile devices. When an emergency does happen, getting help in that “Golden Hour” can be all the difference between moving right into a nursing home or staying independent in the house for many years longer. It’s clear to many now that if you are 65+ and live alone, you should have our service.
4. Thinking of your consumers, what personal safety concerns keep you up at night?
There are all kinds of fall hazards and medical conditions that concern me in regards to our clientele. We try to advise and communicate as many “tips for the home” as we can to help our clients avoid a fall or medical emergency. The reality though is that these incidents will, at some point, happen. So the single thought that keeps me up more than anything is that our clients will take off the button from time to time and when they need it most, they won’t be able to reach it. For that reason, we have many reminders asking our clients to wear their button 24/7, just in case they need it.
5. People are living longer with more independence than ever before. How is this shifted the way care for ourselves and others?
One big change that the baby boomer generation is certainly going to deal with as they age is the cost of care. They will be living much longer after the age of retirement than the generations prior so investing and spending their money wisely is very important. What I like about our service the most is that it’s extremely affordable to the average senior in this country. Our service ranges from $29.95 to $59.95 a month depending on the device you choose. When you put this against professional home care or an independent living facility, you are literally talking about a different in price of thousands of dollars a month. When you are talking about an aging adult on a fixed income, our service becomes a great economic alternative to almost all other care available at this point in their lives. I feel good about that.
6. How have industry changes shaped Medical Guardian’s offering over the years?
Not much has changed in the offering in regarding so the economic stability and family dynamics of our customers. What has changed the most is the age in which our customers start our service. When I started the company 11 years ago, our customer was signed up at 80 years old. Today, it’s closer to 77.5 years of age. This is a dramatic change and one that I think started with the products that we now offer. In 2005 the only device we offered was a home unit that had to dial out through a landline telephone. Now, we sell 75% of our products as cellular only, both for the home and on-the-go. Two of our devices have GPS and two have automatic fall detection—so even if you can’t press the button, help can still be summoned. These products provide what we call “a solution for every need.”
7. What makes you stand out from your competitors?
I do believe that our product strategy and offerings have been someone unique in our industry and have given our customers ” a solution for every need.” This was a something that allowed us to serve all needs at price points that were more affordable than our competitors. With that said though, the main difference is our level of attention to customer service. I’m very focused on our attention to and care for the way we communicate with our customers. It starts with our culture and building a business that hires people that truly are customer focused. People that are kind, patient, have empathy for others and are mission driven. At Medical Guardian, we believe in getting the device to you quick, providing a reliable service and having real consultants on the other end of that phone when our customers have a question or problem.
8. What things can we expect to see in the future from the industry & Medical Guardian?
The offering I am most excited is coming out later in 2016 is called the Family Guardian. This is an activity monitoring system that offers both the basic service we’ve provided for years and a new level of insight into the activity in the home. It’s a system that will allow adult caregivers the opportunity to monitor both activity and non-activity in a parent’s home through the use of motion sensors in the equipment package. Through a web-based platform, the caregivers will be able to see in real time the activity in the home and be able to get an email or text message notifications for activities, like a parent waking up in the morning, or a non-activity, like a parent not eating in the kitchen by noon. This, along with telehealth, is the next evolution of product offerings in our industry.
9. Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
I would say that if you are considering a medical alert service for yourself or a loved one, do you research and pick a company that fits all of your needs. When looking for a company in the life safety business, it’s certainly important to look at price but it’s even more important to find a solution that is right for you and a company that is proven to provide a reliable service. We have worked hard to build an impressive team of professionals that are highly trained to provide “best in class” service to our customers. This service is like insurance; hopefully, it never gets used. With that said, if it is needed, you want to know the voice on the other end of that call knows how to handle the emergency at hand properly. This is a service that anyone over the age of 65 and living alone should have. It’s important to get protection before the falls or medical emergencies happen. That way, when they do, you’ll have help right away and continue living the life you want, at home. Great visiting with everyone! Thank you so much!
Video: Geoff and Medical Guardian
Learn more about Geoff and Medical Guardian in this video:
Thanks again Geoff for taking the time to share your insights with us!